TIM Newth’s immense artistic talent has been recognised by being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Mr Newth, 52, who grew up in the small farming community of Hansonville, near Wangaratta, was acknowledged for his significant service to the performing arts, particularly through the development of Indigenous dance.
He lives in Darwin and is the co-artistic director and co-founder of the Tracks Dance Company.
He yesterday described his acknowledgement as a surprise and said: “You never expect things like that.”
Mr Newth said he worked with a vast diversity of people ranging in ages from their 80s to teenagers.
His first employment was at a youth drop-in centre in Albury in the 1980s.
He went to factories, collected junk material and took it to schools to show students how artistic items could be created.
“I guess it was recycling back in those early days,” he said.
Mr Newth was involved with a youth radio program in Albury before moving to Queensland to paint murals.
He was contacted by the Wangaratta City Council about being its artist in residence, and he filled the role for 12 to 18 months.
He moved to Melbourne and became a designer with a dance company, but at the same time was doing a large amount of community-based artist work.
Mr Newth then moved to Darwin to work with the Warlpiri people of Lajamanu in the north Tanami Desert.
He developed the Milperri Project, an Indigenous dance program aiming to bridge the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous culture which has been performed yearly since 1988.
In Lajamanu, about 1000 kilometres from Darwin, he was immersed in Aboriginal culture.
It provided an insight into their cultural activities like dancing and painting stretching back thousands of years.
The Tracks Dance Company has received widespread acclaim being recognised for outstanding achievement in youth or community dance at the Australian dance awards in 2009 and last year.
It was shortlisted for service to dance at the Australian dance awards in 2007 and won a Sidney Myer performing arts award in 2004.
Mr Newth said the cultural diversity of Darwin provided a significant challenge for him.
He is the eldest son of Max and Heather Newth, who are widely known in the Wangaratta region.