Jenna Oldaker – Our NAIDOC 2023 Tee Artist!

June 26 2023 – YMCA Gear

Jenna Oldaker – Our NAIDOC 2023 Tee Artist!
Jenna Oldaker – Our NAIDOC 2023 Tee Artist!

Jenna Oldaker is a Wadawurrung Traditional Owner and Visual Artist creating works under ‘Murrup Art’. ‘Murrup’ is the Wadawurrung word for spirit, which is fitting as Jenna’s art comes from her ancestors and their spirits. 

Through her art, Jenna expresses her deep connection and love for her Aboriginal culture, country, and heritage. Every piece created by Jenna comes from her heart and a strong connection to Wadawurrung culture. Her passion is to create each work with its own individual story and meaning and also to educate others about Wadawurrung culture and country.

Born and based in Ballarat on Wadawurrung Country, Jenna uses mostly bright, contemporary colours to create unique and detailed artworks. Her vibrant, multicoloured artworks are largely inspired by the traditional marks and symbols from the dreamtime and also from Wadawurrung Country itself. Working primarily with acrylic paints on canvas, Jenna enjoys creating new pieces using a variety of forms and dimensions.

Artwork Name: Wadawurrung Murrup (Wadawurrung Spirit)

This artwork is a celebration of community, belonging and wellbeing, as we all come together as one. Wadawurrung people were once known as the water tribe, due to our harmony with nature and resourcefulness using rivers as both our food and water source. Our coastal country, rivers (yaluk), creeks and wetlands are represented in the artwork by the strip of blue moving through the bottom-left hand side of the artwork.

Scar Trees also have incredible significance in Wadawurrung culture, as they provide an important link to our past history. The bark from the tree would be cut into a particular shape and removed, to then be used for a variety of different purposes, such as shields, canoes, or shelter. By cutting into the tree to remove the bark, scars would be created, exposing the sapwood on the trunk or branch of the tree. This is illustrated in the artwork by the different patterns and shapes around the top of the artwork.

Moving through the centre of the artwork are the symbols for meeting place all connected in one line, illustrating community and how we are all joined together as one. In the middle meeting place symbol, is the traditional ‘∩’ shape for ‘people’, illustrating how we are all connected to one another as we come together in unity. The concentric circles and lines illustrate journey paths, as we travel from one place to another across country together a community. 

On the right-hand side of the artwork is the symbol for meeting place/yarn circle representing our community coming together as one. The classic ‘∩’ shapes symbolise people, whilst the concentric circles and lines illustrate journey paths. The animal tracks surrounding the yarn circle represent our native animals, but are also symbolic of our cultural, spiritual and community continuity – how we must continue to look after one another and our land, in order for the land and community to continue to provide and care for us.

The traditional ‘∩’ shapes represent people on Wadawurrung Country, as they move around the tracks weaving back and forth across the land sharing their stories, history and culture. The eucalyptus leaves symbolise our land Country and all our beautiful native Australian fauna. The orange and yellow shapes represent the sunny yellow flowers of the Yam Daisy (Murnong) that once covered the lands of Wadawurrung people, and were a staple part of their diet.

At the top of the artwork is the symbol for ‘stars’, a representation of our Elders and their spirits surrounding us, providing guidance, wisdom and strength. The You Yang region (Wadawurrung for Big Hill) is one of the most significant cultural homes for Wadawurrung people, and this is represented by the large arches at the bottom of the artwork.

Footprints move through the centre of the artwork, symbolising us walking on Country together. The variety of different colours and shapes are used to illustrate diversity and the celebration of individual expression.

As we have cared for this land for thousands of years, the Country has reciprocated and cared for us providing healthy and nourished land and water, allowing us to create new life and spirit. Nyatne (Thank You)

To find more information about Jenna and her artwork, you can find her on Instagram via the below link.  



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