Yarn with Angelina Hurley: YIRRAMBOI Blak Critic

A new class of critics will be unleashed on YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival, in the lead up to May 5 we will provide a profile and a sample of their writing. Here, we have a chat with Blak Critic Angelina Hurley.

Who your mob? Where you from?

I am originally from Brisbane. Yes, another Murri. There are a few of us down here. My mobs are Jagera, Mununjali, Birriah and Gooreng Gooreng. Like most of us do we have mob, family and friendship connections around Australia, I have a lot mainly up and down the east coast with dear and solid ones here in Victoria.

In three words describe for us your country…

Meanjin pronounced Mee-an-jin is the traditional name for Brisbane. A place of Bigi (Sun) pronounced ‘big-gi’, and a long winding warril (river) pronounced ‘wor-rill’.

What made you apply for the YIRRAMBOI Blak Critics Program?

I have worked in the area of Indigenous arts for 25 years for lots of organisations including Indigenous organisations, museums, festivals, educational instititions and funding organisations. Most people know my father renowned visual artist Ron Hurley. The arts, has always been a part of my families life. After dad passed away in 2002 I took a leaf out of his book in relation to his goal to immortalise our mob through his work. I have a catalogue of stories in my memory, many that have been passed down from years, and a lot still being passed on to me. I needed to get them out. Our mobs natural sense of humour reigned supreme. So I focus on that. I started writing and found it cathartic and fun. Hence, I have a lot of short stories written down. I’ve made a short film and am completing a thesis titled  – Blak Comedy and Indigenous Cultural Perspectives on Humour . When I heard about the Blak Critics opportunity I got excited to learn about a writing technique and program designed to encourage more Indigenous voices and perspectives, absent in this area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts. There is a lot of commentary and critiquing around Indigenous politics but not as much in the arts. There can be and is a lot of negativity and insecurity around feedback. I figure it’s an area that could seriously do with a good dose of humour.

You’ve had a series of workshops with Luke Pearson and Jack Latimore from IndigenousX and Guardian Mastreclasses led by Jane Howard (theatre/dance), Luke Buckmaster (film), Kate Hennessy (music), Van Badhamn (critical review & opinion writing) and Miles Martignoni (podcasting), give us an insight into some of the highlights from the masterclasses.

Highlights have been the amazing teachers themselves and diversity of knowledge. How to work with and within the diversity of genres was overwhelming.  There is so much that can be done, and so many different ways of doing it that I hadn’t realised. Throughout the workshops the information from the teachers blending with the cultural knowledge of the participants was awesome. There was so much great discussion, ideas and enthusiasm from everyone. By the end we were all ready to go, but also starting to realise expectation and pressure.

What about the other participants selected for the workshop, how have you found them? 

There was a deadly group dynamic, debate and discussion, and lots of laughter. I don’t know whether some of the participants realised what naturals they already are. They really were deadly at what they do and what they produced. It was a pleasure to be involved and I really hope more partnerships develop out of it.

What do you hope to gain from your involvement in the Blak Critics stream of the YIRRAMBOI Festival?

The confidence to explore and develop further as a writer, and hopefully deliver some deadly reviews and stories. I seriously hope this kicks of cohort of deadly Indigenous writers, and arts critics into the mainstream.