Cara hails from Narromine NSW, a small township about 20 minutes west of Dubbo. Now living in Brisbane, Cara said it was a family connection at the University of Sydney that led her to enter the contest.
“My cousin Kyle is studying medicine at the University of Sydney and he showed me the ad for the prize and said, ‘I thought of you’,” Cara explained.
“I remember, it was the last day for me to apply, my baby was not sleeping, I was exhausted. But something about it called to me and I applied on my phone, with my baby napping in my arms.”
Cara said she had always been an artist, and had studied Certificate I, II and III in Aboriginal Art and Cultural Practices at the Myall Street Dubbo TAFE campus in the early 2000s.
For the contest, she submitted a painting she described as a contemporary ochre and acrylic landscape representing the places she grew up – Wellington, Dubbo and Narromine. Cara’s artwork is centred around trees, particularly the scar trees the Dubbo region is famous for.
“Trees are the very air that we breathe and there are some beautiful grand old trees out at Dubbo, they’ve always been a big part of my life – they’re everything,” she said.
“The boundary trees were there to mark the boundaries of tribal lands, women gave birth under trees – I imagine that would have been so serene and peaceful, you’d be able to really connect."
“And trees have been used for artistic purposes, there’s a canoe tree out there, where a canoe is carved into the tree and the patterns on the regrowth is just beautiful. Really beautiful swirling grooves, it’s amazing what trees can do.”
Cara will use the $2500 prize to create a suite of three artworks, which will form part of the School of Rural Health’s new visual identity. The School is currently undergoing a $7 million expansion to deliver the full University of Sydney MD in Dubbo, commencing next year.
Cara is delighted her artwork would be used to promote a university that was offering greater opportunities for regional students.
“To be able to do a medical degree in Dubbo is going to mean so much for kids in the country,” she said.
“For Indigenous kids, it’s great to be able to study at home, be part of the community and connect with the community about health and to be role models as well.”
From 2022, the School of Rural Health in Dubbo will be offering the full four-year University of Sydney Doctor of Medicine program. The program is being funded by the Australian Government under the Murray Darling Medical Schools Network. Its aim is to increase the rural medical workforce by offering students the opportunity to live and study in regional areas.