About Debbie Taylor Worley
I'm a Gamillaraay woman, originally from north west NSW and now residing in Banora Point, on the Tweed Coast. The birth of my daughters sent me on a quest to reconnect to our heritage, resulting in me studying, at a mature age, at Griffith University's College of Art. I graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art. I've worked as an artist and an educator. I've been in numerous group shows, have illustrated four children's books, conducted many workshops and created public and community artwork. I am working toward a Doctorate of Visual Art.
The first time I saw a Gamillaroi carved tree (dendroglyph), it was like coming home. It was as if my place in the world was finally realised. I know that sounds sort of goofy, but it really was a profound moment. In comparison to other Australian Aboriginal artforms, there is very little known about the trees, many having been destroyed by the relentless pursuit of agricultural land. I was particularly astounded by the destruction of the Banaway Bora Ground in Collarenabri in the 1940's. The carved trees were cut down, then transported to the South Australia Museum and the Museum of Victoria. I wanted to honour this artform and shine a light on this hidden heritage. As the Gamillaroi are primarily carvers, rather than painters, I found that leather hard clay is a beautiful medium to carve, hence began my love for working with clay.
My pottery, whether a functional vessel or as a piece of beautiful art, carved with the designs inspired by the dendroglyphs, have become a signature of my work. This has evolved into female figures, similarly carved and glazed. They portray the strength, integrity, power, resilience and the enduring nurturing creativity of womanhood (and yes, this did develop after a life- changing, identity reinforcing event).
I am also passionate about education. Inspired by Oodgeroo Noonuchal who said regarding the history of oppression and racism Australian Aboriginal people deal with daily, "Don't hate, educate". Teaching at Griffith University, within the TAFE system and conducting school workshops in both cultural studies and Indigenous art, has provided an opportunity to shed light on Indigenous perspectives.