Gregory Matthews

Artist bio

My name is Gregory Matthews, I’m a proud Tasmanian Aboriginal Man, and a descendant of the Manegin People; a clan member of the “North West Nation”. My ancestors occupied the Arthur River Mouth area of Tasmania's North West Coast.

My language group is Peerapper. During my early childhood, I was looked after by my Grandparents and sometimes by my Mother, who often lived interstate. Because of this, I was frequently in the care of various family members. One day welfare became involved when I arrived at the airport and possible miscommunication led to no family members coming to collect me. Consequently, this led to me being placed in care; and thus separating me from my family. At the time I didn’t understand why this had happened and It was a particularly traumatic time for me. Lengthly placements in boys' homes in both Hobart, Tasmania and Melbourne, Australia, took their effect on both my physical and psychological well-being. Eventually, I was adopted in Melbourne, Australia at the age of 12. My birth mother had ten children, as she was of white complexion, she was told by her non-Aboriginal mother never to divulge her Aboriginality, as this would bring shame on the family, as a consequence, her children were all deprived of their Aboriginal Heritage.

I was in my 60’s nearing retirement when my mother told my sisters the truth. This was the catalyst for researching our family history and ultimately coming into contact with our Manegin Clan Elder. The Elder agreed to carry out his own extensive research into our family, and he finally confirmed our Aboriginal connections, and welcomed us into the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. I started painting in 2017 at the age of 69, it was at the local Aboriginal Art & Yarn Group that I was just accepted into where I commenced my first painting, I felt a connection with my aboriginal heritage, and through my art and on-going research, I’m gradually reconnecting with my ancestors' history & culture. I love my art and the Aboriginal culture, and I’m so grateful for the gift I’ve been given. Hopefully, I can maintain my concentration; steady hand and good eyesight for some years to come, so I can continue to tell my stories and do my part in advancing Australian Aboriginal Art, Culture and awareness.

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