Mark Saddler has joined the growing display of talent at the Leeton Visitor Information Centre.
His work ranges from the traditional to the inventive, from handcrafted didgeridoos to clocks made from recycled materials, yet indigenous culture remains central.
One is based on a kurrajong tree. Kurrajong trees are a great source of food. Much of the tree can be used for food, such as the seedpods which can be ground and used like coffee."
"In Aboriginal art we tell a story that's a story within a story within a story. I'm trying to keep my art very basic, working with different materials to tell a story that's relevant to our mobs here."
"My art aims to get people's attention so I can lead them back to our culture. To get people thinking about Aboriginal people."
Mark Saddler is active in promoting Wiradjuri culture and has developed school and workplace cultural programs that he travels all over New South Wales and Victoria. These programs explore indigenous culture and the personal benefits to be gained through making art.
His art is his passion and one that allows him to communicate culture. "I'm moving to give art a greater role in all our lives," he says. "Art's a thing where everyone can have a crack at it."
Saddler’s work with students at Wagga Wagga's Willans Hill Special School and inmates at Junee Correctional Centre are two examples. "Every time I visit a school I learn something. There are questions that lead me to research. One student asked how did we boil water so as to have a hot drink. I learned we used possum skins to hold the water and brought it to boil with stones that were heated in fire. Learning should never stop, as with sharing knowledge, it must continue."
"Wiradjuri people were known for possum skin cloaks and we traded with other groups up and down the Murrumbidgee River. Didgeridoos were brought to our region through trade. It wasn't a traditional tool but my great-uncles made them, so it is part of my culture" says Mr Saddler. "We tend to be an adaptive people."
"Language and art is one to us," he explains. "Our art comes from the red dirt, our land. It comes from what we know, see and share. Our art and culture comes from thousands of years of being here."
Mark Saddler collects materials from the landscape to create and each artwork tells a story. "Every piece is completely different, a one-off that's unique and when it's purchased my story goes with every artwork."
Leeton Visitor Information Centre has information sheets that accompany Saddler's artworks. When his art is bought, the story of how it was created or the culture represented goes with it.
Through his artwork Mark Saddler is helping to keep Wiradjuri culture alive.