Ochre is a clay substance that represents a huge part of Aboriginal life. It is used for rituals and ceremonies, visual arts, healing ... it is also a symbolic way for Aboriginal people to tell their stories through body painting while celebrating the spirit of these stories through dance. Ochre comes in four major colours: yellow, black, red and white. In all its forms and colours, ochre is essential to the life of Aboriginal communities.
The inspiration behind Ochres was to bring the contemporary and the traditional together in a seamless way, while retaining the integrity of our stories. Ochres is the work that inspired much of Bangarra’s repertoire and one of the earliest examples of our signature style. Now – 21 years on from its creation – it’s the base for the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to embody Bangarra’s artistic expression.
In the beginning of Bangarra, we rehearsed in Redfern – it was our stomping ground. Ochres started brewing there during 1993/1994 with early members of the Bangarra family: my brothers David and Russell Page, Djakapurra Munyarryun, Bernadette Walong-Sene, Frances Rings and Pinau Ghee among others. Paul Keating’s 1993 Redfern speech was burning in us, and the Creative Nation policy put art and culture firmly on the Government agenda. With Bangarra being fresh on the scene, these events fuelled our energy to create this work and we went on to tour Australia and the world.