Darren Charlwood was born in Camperdown in Sydney’s inner West in 1974 and is the youngest of five siblings. He grew up in Redfern surrounded by the newly empowered Aboriginal community in the 1980’s. Darren left school early to pursue a career in butchery, however his love of art had already been born. Darren would often paint Aboriginal landscapes and give his paintings away as presents to family and friends.
After the breakdown of two long-term relationships and the death of his father, Darren found himself in the grips of a drug addiction and living on the streets. One day, while under the influence of drugs, he wandered into Eora TAFE and met an art teacher by the name of Chico Monks. Chico encouraged Darren to return and possibly enrol in an Aboriginal Art course at TAFE and, after viewing some of his work, to continue painting. Encouraged by this chance meeting, Darren enrolled at Eora TAFE and begun to attend classes while looking for accommodation and trying to kick the drug habit. By the end of his course, Darren graduated with top marks from Eora TAFE and was awarded the Excellence in Studio Practice Award and was encouraged to pursue his art practice further. Darren credits art with saving his life and getting him off the streets and back to being a contributing member of society, as well as the guidance and help from the Aboriginal community in the inner West.
Darren is now living a sober life and is undertaking a BA of Visual Arts and Archaeology at Sydney College of the Arts (Sydney University) where he is excelling. He has also been made a member of Boomali Artists Co-operative and has exhibited his artwork at several shows and galleries. He is also working as a cultural educator with the NSW Government.
Darren’s art is deeply rooted in his experience as a Wiradjuri man, a father, a son and a member of the urban Aboriginal community of Sydney’s inner West. Within the urban context, Darren produces pieces which reflect his environment. He makes use of recycled materials which come from the urban environment, something which is based on the Aboriginal tradition of only using what is needed from the environment.
This project has been paid for and facilitated by Winya Indigenous Office Furniture. Winya is a Supply Nation Registered Majority Indigenous owned genuine Indigenous business. Winya works within a profit-for-purpose business model, Winya creates employment for Indigenous Australians through traineeships in each of the manufacturers used for jobs. Winya financially supports the employment and training of Indigenous trainees and staff within high quality furniture manufacturers across Australia.
Winya was created by Debbie Barwick and Greg Welsh to create genuine Indigenous empowerment, in a new manufacturing model that links Australian furniture manufacturers, Indigenous trainees, remote Indigenous communities and even trainee programs in TAFE and Prison.
Winya is a multi-award-winning company, the only Australian company awarded by the United Nations for leadership in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Procurement and Supply Australasia in both 2017 and 2018, the City of Sydney Business Awards for Excellence in Sustainability, Excellence in Workplace Diversity and Overall Business of the Year Award, The Chartered Institute of Procurement Asia Pacific Award for Best Contribution to Corporate Responsibility and Overall Winner.
Winya has proudly founded and funded this project as part of their Indigenous engagement focused business model. Winya hopes that the creation of this map as a community driven project will bring a greater level of awareness amongst corporate bodies to the diversity of Indigenous cultural communities across Australia.