Linking in action: The power of art – Glenn’s story

Glenn and Ability Links linker Tshinta in front of one of Glenn's piecesBarkuma Neighbourhood Centre is a very special place for Indigenous communities stretching across the Hunter towns of Cessnock, Maitland and Dungog, and more recently Newcastle, Port Stephens, the Central Coast and Upper Hunter.

The goal of Barkuma is to give Aboriginal people a place to come together and discuss t̲h̲e̲i̲r̲ needs. The community identified a need to have a welcoming place to access support and assistance without prejudice and Barkuma is most definitely that!

We were introduced to an amazing local artist Glenn and his story is a powerful one. It’s a story of overcoming a difficult past, including incarceration, isolation and depression, to find a positive path forward through art and cultural expression.

Working with Linker Tshinta over many years, Glenn has been able to reengage with society in some of the most fundamental ways. He’s gained housing and stability, got his head around technology including Facebook for his art, and most importantly been able to regain his self-confidence and purpose.

Glenn’s ability with the brush is astounding. He’s prolific and with each painting his sense of self has grown. So much so that Glenn now sees himself as role model for his community and regularly mentors the kids and adults who come to Barkuma. Sitting down for a day of painting is often the best way to yarn with community and all throughout Barkuma you see the positive impact Glenn’s passion for his art and culture are making.

We had the honour of hearing direct from Glenn the stories behind a massive mural capturing the building of the Hunter Expressway from an Aboriginal perspective. All along the expressway are places of meaning for Indigenous people and this mural is an incredible portrait of this huge infrastructure project.

It should be a tourist attraction! Mmmm let’s see what we can do about that.

The message behind Glenn’s art is one of celebrating his culture, however the message behind Glenn’s life is when people are given the chance to become empowered then anything is possible.

He’s a deadly fella and an amazing artist.

See more of Glenn's work in our Facebook post

Check out Glenn's Facebook page

Cessnock City Council