When you think about the humble picnic rug, it usually evokes warm memories of family picnics in the park or seaside holidays with friends.
For Aboriginal artist Angela Marr-Grogan, the simple picnic rug has also become a meaningful work of art.
Angela recently commissioned two of her celebrated designs – “campfire” and “reconciliation” – to be printed onto round picnic rugs, made out of recycled materials for Angela Marr-Grogan.
“I love circles, and I used them for both pieces as they represent a togetherness or gathering, and that’s essentially the theme and meaning behind both pieces,” Angela shared.
A wife and mother of four children, Angela understands that the rug design must also be practical, as well as aesthetically pleasing.
“Four of my greatest creations are my children: Tori, Tarran, Gideon and Harper. They are my life and I’m a mother first and always which leaves only a small amount of time to create,” Angela said.
“One of my earlier artworks was a piece titled ‘Mother Earth’. I painted it for my children and it hangs in the bedroom of my two youngest children and represents nurturing, growth and comfort. “
Angela uses her small amount of free time industriously, creating a number of paintings and commissioned works which can be viewed on her Marrang Art web site, meaning “Beautiful Art” in Kattang/Gathang language.
“A proud moment and achievement for me was recently having a piece selected as the winning artwork to represent the NSW Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council’s 2016 Conference,” Angela said.
“It was a healing painting that I gave the special traditional name of ‘Marrungba’, meaning ‘make well’ in my Kattang language. I’m really excited to see it represent this year’s conference and showcased on the conference’s marketing and promotional material.”
Angela said that her Indigenous heritage as a Birpai/Biripi woman, with connections to the Dunghutti and Worimi people on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, significantly influences her work.
“I lost my father when I was 20,” Angela explained. “He was a proud Aboriginal man that encouraged me to embrace my heritage and develop a strong sense of cultural identity, which was difficult growing up in a coastal town like Port Macquarie.
“Port in the 1970s and 80s was home to only a small number of Aboriginal people, with most of my extended family living on missions in towns located over an hour’s drive away,” she said.
“Painting in some ways is a tribute and a way to connect to my ancestors, and to my father and mother, who were both of Aboriginal descent.”
Angela also described the conceptual and painting process of her artworks as a spiritual experience.
“I usually have a vision in mind and it just starts to develop from a drawing and then onto canvas in acrylic form. I let the piece guide me and a little part of me feels like it goes into every piece I create.”
Fabulous for family life, the rugs can be used at home, for camping, in the outdoors, and can even be taken to the beach. They also make the perfect gift for those hard-to-buy -for people in your life.
Better still, the mats are made from recycled polypropylene, which is a combination of recycled materials including medicine bottles, tin foil and shopping bags.
By purchasing one of these mats, you will not only be making an environmentally conscious decision, but you will also be supporting an emerging Australian artist.
In the future, Angela said her artwork will be taking a new direction as she plans to paint pieces that celebrate our country, and tell stories about the plight of Australia’s First Nation people.
“I’m hoping that my art will provoke thought and compassion and send messages to the wider community about the importance of remembering the past and the need to work together for a brighter future.”
To find out more, or to purchase one of Angela’s mats, visit www.recycledmats.com.au.