Centacare is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Archie Roach – singer-songwriter, revered Australian music legend and campaigner for Aboriginal rights. We were privileged to know Archie and connect with him through our support of the Ruby Hunter Foundation and NO:RI Music Festival. In 2016, we purchased a portrait of Archie by Ngarrindjeri artist Damien Shen which proudly hangs in our reception. Rest easy, Archie. Thank you for all you taught us and for being a powerful voice for the Stolen Generations.
Celebrated Ngarrindjeri artist Damien Shen had long aspired to work with Archie Roach.
The chance came in 2016 when he was approached by Reconciliation South Australia to draw the revered Aboriginal singer-songwriter.
Shen saw it as a unique opportunity to honour Archie and his generation of Aboriginal Elders.
The portrait was presented for silent auction at the Reconciliation Week Breakfast in February that year to support the reparation of the Stolen Generations.
“The day before the breakfast, I went to meet Archie,” Shen said at the time.
“We went into the theatre area and he signed the drawing. I remember the look of appreciation on his face. He’s just an incredibly humble man.
“It was a great experience to be able to work with him, firstly from a distance, and then to get together and meet with him.”
Former Centacare Director Dale West purchased the emotive work which soon after was officially installed in Centacare’s Wakefield St reception.
“The portrait is about honouring a man who’s had an incredible career as a musician and is a role model to the Aboriginal community,” said Shen, the 2014 NAIDOC South Australian Artist of the Year.
“We are on the cusp of losing a particular generation of Elders so this was an opportunity to engage with Archie and to learn, and we must never take these opportunities for granted.
“Embrace Aboriginal people, embrace our history and be proud of it,” says the 2014 NAIDOC South Australian Artist of the Year.