MARK-John Martyn is taking a fresh approach to shedding light on an age-old problem.
The contemporary artist uses graffiti art to explore the loss of indigenous language and culture in Australia over time.
He switched to the mainstream art scene last year.
"I knew I had a skill that I could use to spread a message," he said.
"It's important to highlight the loss of indigenous culture especially when it's really in your face."
A proud Wadjarri man who lives on Dhudhuroa Country, Martyn uses graffiti "tagging" styles to create paintings that challenge ideas of contemporary Australian Indigenous art.
He will open his first solo exhibition, Irrai, at Burraja Gallery in Albury on Tuesday.
Martyn said Irrai - which meant language in Wadjarri - played with the politics of language.
He said he painted the commonly accepted spelling of indigenous words and juxtaposed, through the titling of each work, his families' spelling of the same words.
"I have spelt the words as they appear on the Internet so that the audience has an access point, through a Google search, should they wish to find the meaning," Martyn said.
Eight pieces make up the solo exhibition.
Having grown up in the North East, Martyn said he got into graffiti art in his late teens.
He moved back to the Border two years ago before he ultimately made the switch to mainstream art.
"It's (Graffiti) a way of representing culture that is mutually acceptable to both sides (indigenous and non-indigenous," he said.
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Sadly, Martyn said much of the Wadjarri language in Western Australia had been lost.
"I can't learn my own language because I don't know anybody who still speaks it fluently," Martyn said.
"A lot of language was lost when indigenous culture was shunned and the language not allowed."
Martyn said it was vital to celebrate graffiti art in Australia.
He said there was already a huge market for it in New York and London.
"It's important to me to help create a platform in mainstream art for graffiti art," he said.
"It will give some people - especially disadvantaged people - the chance to experience some great opportunities.
"It's almost inexplicable the awesome opportunities I've found through mainstream art."
Martyn will host a meet the artist event on Saturday at 10am at Burraja Gallery, 560 Olive Street. Irrai runs until January 28, Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and Saturday, 10am to 1pm.
Burraja Gallery is a pop-up gallery dedicated to First Nation artists in the Border and North East regions.
For details visit burrajagallery.org.au.
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