Welcome to the Hakea Woman series, Nina Fitzgerald. Creative Director, Gallerist and proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, we delve into Nina’s diverse creative projects and her remarkable journey that intertwines art, fashion, culture, and community impact.
Currently involved in multiple exciting endeavours, Nina is the driving force behind Laundry, an innovative gallery space set in an old 70’s laundromat, as well as one third of Darwin based creative marketing collective Going North. Additionally, Nina's talent extends to curating an artist-in-residence program for The Ace Hotel Sydney, spotlighting and celebrating First Nations artists, stories and histories. However, her impact extends beyond these creative ventures.
Nina has also served as a board associate for A New Approach, an independent think tank dedicated to arts and culture in Australia. Through this experience, she has witnessed the immense importance of art and culture in fostering community well-being, mental health, education, and employment. She firmly believes in the potential for Australia to become a cultural powerhouse, with its creativity cherished locally, valued nationally, and revered globally.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience with A New Approach and what role you think art and fashion can play in raising cultural awareness amongst non-Indigenous Australians?
Fashion reaches beyond socio-economic divides and is a medium that everyone engages with in some way, even in the most remote parts of the country. This unique ability to engage the masses is immensely powerful, lending fashion the ability to unite people in celebration of Australia’s rich heritage. It is an attainable and fun space for meaningful two-way learning between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to occur.
We are already starting to see the positive role the fashion industry can have in promoting and supporting First Nations Australia. The future is exciting!
From what I know your career path hasn’t been linear and I think there’s a beauty in that - that we can embrace multiple interests and pathways in one lifetime. What path did you think you’d take after studying and how did you get to where you are now?
I studied a science degree, majoring in geography and weather science! A love for problem solving, endless curiosity and a passion to protect and work with our precious natural world led me down this path. Over time, I chose to dive back into creative pursuits as many answers in life aren’t as black and white as Science may have us believe. I used my background in research science, to jump into a job in research with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, and jumped at every opportunity to eventually begin working for myself and working in the spaces I was passionate about and could make the changes I wanted to see.
I am really passionate about elevating First Nations stories through new creative mediums, fun and positivity - I believe in the power of new creative perspectives to drive education and understanding and ultimately bring positive and influential change across so many aspects of so many lives, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Where do you draw creative inspiration from?
As an adult my creativity is heavily grounded in a love for problem-solving and my constant curiosity. There is still so far to go in Australia to right the wrongs of a history rooted in injustices towards its First Peoples, but I believe in the power of new creative perspectives to drive education and understanding and ultimately bring positive and influential change across so many aspects of so many lives, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
You are one inspirational woman, what do you do to relax?
I do lots of Yoga + Pilates - the best way to calm my mind, and I also meditate. I also find moments of relaxation in everyday activities as well. It's so important to slow down and be present throughout the day where you can - sitting down and enjoying a morning coffee, a swim in the ocean, going for a walk, taking dinner down to the beach to watch the sunset are some that come to mind :)
What is on the horizon for 2023?
Already mid-May eeeek! A jam packed and fun dry season is coming up - the next few months are taking me to Sydney, Melbourne, and Europe, as well as trips to remote communities in the Top End. An exciting line-up of shows at Laundry Gallery, a couple of epic projects for Going North, the launch of a screen printing facility in Darwin and continuing the work on some of my own projects that will come to life in the second half of the year.
Can you share a recent piece of knowledge or snippet of wisdom that has resonated with you?
Back yourself and believe in yourself. I know there are so many, probably more, important wise words we can live by that don’t sound so cliche, but the more my projects grow the more I realise we must all start here in order to achieve any of the rest.
Can you share some of your favourite spots in Darwin to:
Swim: Off the rocks at the start of East Point
Sunset: Any of Darwin's coastline!
Eat/Drink: Ella by Minoli
Gallery: Laundry Gallery :)
Lastly, your favourite Hakea swimsuit?