Tiny hands and hearts have left a big impression on NAIDOC Week celebrations as the city's kindergarten children hosted their first-ever public art exhibition at the Lighthouse Theatre Atrium.
Warrnambool City Council Kindergarten children worked on the art and language exhibition with council's Indigenous language facilitator Mel Steffensen and their educators.
The children were taught about Australian Aboriginal history, including the Stolen Generation with the moving exhibition featuring the youngsters' perspectives.
The Indigenous language program is one of the first in Victoria and the exhibition includes words in English and Peek Whurrong, the language of the traditional owners of the land in Warrnambool.
The language, which was almost extinct, has undergone a resurgence and is being taught at the council-run centres.
Ms Steffensen said children's story books were a big influence and they read Somebody's Land by Adam Goodes and Took The Children Away by Elder Uncle Archie Roach "having many discussions about the true history of Australia."
One of the pieces, a mural titled Always Aboriginal Land by the Matron Swinton Childcare Centre children includes Aboriginal sand paint, natural materials they'd collected from the kinder site and natural coloured paint.
The poignant work has the children's quotes about the Stolen Generation dotted around the mural.
"It's a big topic to talk to little children about but we did and their understanding was incredible," Ms Steffensen said.
"The bit that pulls at the heart strings is when you read the comments and quotes from the kids in response to Uncle Archie's Took The Children Away. It's really lovely."
In the quotes displayed Sam said "You're sorry when someone does something mean. The white people came and took all the Peek Whurrong people's things away. That was mean."
Cruiz said "It's the saddest story I've read all year. The children had to hide in the forest when the white people came and took them. It's so sad and some of them died."
Inspiration for the exhibition's different works came from various sources including the environment, animals, the ocean, family, colours, story telling through symbols and songlines and were created using natural or repurposed materials.
"We talk about being good custodians of the land and that's not taking anymore than what we need to," Ms Steffensen said. "It means giving back to the land and to reduce, reuse and recycle as well."
She said the exhibition was a great way to showcase what children learned in the language program.
The exhibition runs throughout July.
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