Review Blog

May 23 2019

My culture and me by Gregg Dreise

cover image

Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143789376.
(Age: 7-10) Recommended.
Themes: Identity, Aboriginal peoples, Culture, Aboriginal Poetry. 'We need to always remember, to keep our culture growing inside. We must learn our traditions, and always be filled with pride.'
Storyteller, musician and artist Gregg Dreise proudly presents his connections to country and celebrates his history in My culture and me. With natural landscapes painted in earth tones overlaid with dot paintings, closeups of dancing fire, celebrations of dancing and music, he captures the ancestral and personal relationships with the environment. Rich ochre tones, sage greens, sky blues, fiery reds and earth tones create a visually rich narrative. Bright shining eyes, warm smiles and a sense of pride show in the closeups of the dancers sharing their sense of belonging and stories.
Dreise's use of poetry, sensory images concisely written to explore and explain his culture. Sensory experiences are portrayed: 'the waving lines of the rivers, tantalising, a refreshing shine.' Here, Aboriginal footballers support each other climbing down the cliffs with one kneeling to look at the shining water. He captures the spirit of the dancers prepare for corroboree with ochre decorations. Percussive sounds, the feelings of the didgeridoo, musical rhythms, the clapsticks' melodies provide the sense of belonging and making their families proud. He presents ways forward to future generations to develop their sense of identity and honour their culture. 'We must listen to the spirits, from our hearts to our hands.'
Gregg Driese's biography concludes My culture and me explaining his Dreaming, connection to Country and his Emu totem which can be found throughout his paintings.
This book is a valuable resource for Junior and Middle Primary educators teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures' key concepts of Country/Place, Culture and People.
Rhyllis Bignell

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