11 December 2019
A gift of Indigenous-inspired artwork is at the centre of a touching role reversal involving two of the Sunshine Coast’s most generous philanthropists and an appreciative USC Social Work student.
Indigenous USC student Kelly Hansen from Gympie created the art piece for Dr Rustum Sethna and his wife Helen as an act of giving back after receiving a $2,000 bursary donated by the couple.
“Meeting the Sethnas I discovered they were heavily involved in the arts and that gave me the inspiration for my gift,” said Ms Hansen, who is about to enter her final year of study.
“I’ve never been trained as an artist, but painting is something I have enjoyed doing all my life as a way of expressing myself,” said the 39-year-old, whose other interests include singing and song writing.
The Sethnas have generously supported USC’s academic programs and Art Gallery for more than a decade and in 2017 were honoured with Honorary Senior Fellowships for their contributions.
They are also active in many community organisations, including the Caloundra Regional Gallery and Events Centre Caloundra.
The Dr Rustum Sethna Social Work Bursary is valued at $2,000 and is presented each year to a full-time undergraduate student enrolled in Social Work.
“Dr Sethna has said their donations to USC and other groups are their way of giving back to the arts and learning, so this is my way of doing something similar for them,” Ms Hansen said.
“It might seem little but the actual ripple effect of giving this painting has been quite significant,” she said.
“It has led to a friendship with the Sethnas, and they have helped me make connections with others in the community and the arts, which has provided me with further opportunities,” she said.
Ms Hansen, who is from the Gunggari People of Mitchell in western Queensland, said her painting incorporated elements of Aboriginal art in which the circles represented communities.
“It displays diversity as there is no consistent pattern throughout, and this expresses that communities are diverse and function differently,” she said.
“The lines represent groups of people trapped in systems, and demonstrate that some, for example, disadvantaged groups such as Indigenous people, face barriers.
“I have used some traditional colours which are part of my cultural heritage and a splash of ’80s colour, as that was the era that I grew up in,” she said.
— Clare McKay