Culture Matters: Noongar Pride Shines Through Art and Football

Culture Matters: Noongar Pride Shines Through Art and Football

Culture holds immense significance for proud Noongar man Bradley Hill, much like it does for his close friend and distant cousin, Jamie Bennell. The pair, who share a deep bond, grew up together in the Western Australian town of Bunbury, about 170km south of Perth. While both have a rich understanding of their Noongar heritage, it’s Jamie’s nine-year-old son, Jed Bennell, who might have them both covered when it comes to the knowledge of their lineage from WA’s Pindjarup country. Culture Matters: Noongar Pride Shines Through Art and Football

Recently, Jamie and Jed visited Moorabbin during a St Kilda training session to deliver boots painted by the young artist for Hill, to be worn during this year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous rounds. Since picking up a paintbrush just over a year ago, the aspiring Noongar-Yamatji artist has consistently impressed Hill with his talent.

“I have known Jamie for a long time – we’re actually related,” Hill told Saints TV. “Our family is from Bunbury, south-west of Perth, and his little boy, Jed, has been doing our culture’s painting. He’s actually already done a design on some jocks that all us (St Kilda) boys have had the jocks on. He can pull out some pretty special work and he asked could he get my boots painted too, and look, they have come up amazing.”

Culture Matters: Noongar Pride Shines Through Art and Football

A Canvas of Culture and Journey

The white boots, transformed by Jed’s intricate designs, are a vivid tapestry of Hill’s journey and heritage. The large dotted circles near the laces and soles symbolize where Hill’s love for the game began in Western Australia. The smaller circle represents AFL club Fremantle, where Hill played from 2017 to 2019. Kangaroo footprints adorn the boots, illustrating Hill’s journey from the West to Melbourne, where the smaller dots signify St Kilda and Hawthorn, Hill’s first AFL club, before his return to WA with the Dockers.

The blue circles surrounded by dots represent Hill’s support system, including teammates, Hill himself, his wife Samantha, and their two young children. Hill reflected on the significance of the design and Jed’s talent, stating, “To have someone like the young fella come through, giving him the opportunity to do his artwork and put it out on the big stage is pretty special. Just the talent he’s got is amazing to see, and hopefully he can keep sticking at it, and he will have a bright future ahead doing this sort of stuff.”

Culture Matters: Noongar Pride Shines Through Art and Football

Inspiring the Next Generation

In his fifth year on Boonwurrung land, Hill was deeply moved by Jed’s storytelling through art. “We want to inspire our younger generation and he’s (Jed) definitely got a lot of potential,” Hill said. “I can’t wait to see where he goes with this, and hopefully he will do many more boots for me and other players to come in the future.”

Although Jed did not witness his father represent their culture on the AFL field, the young artist holds Hill in high regard. “I was watching the Sir Doug Nicholls round (in 2023), and I wanted to start painting because it made me so proud of who I am and of my culture,” Jed said. “I can’t wait to tell my friends, my teachers and I like to thank him for an opportunity because I can’t thank him enough.”

Jed’s story and his artwork on Hill’s boots are not just a tribute to his cultural heritage but also a beacon of inspiration for the next generation. His artistic journey, encouraged by the proud traditions of his family and community, promises a bright future for this talented young Noongar-Yamatji artist.

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