I would like you to meet our new Operations Assistant (OA) Ilona McGuire. Ilona started last week and has been employed through the ArtsReady program. Our former OA Hannah Chambers has joined our Regional Arts Development team as the Assistant. Ilona is will be the lovely voice at the end of the phone and the key contact for any membership queries.
Hi Ilona, how are you settling in at Country Arts WA?
I am settling in very well and enjoying the friendly and hospitable environment at the office already.
What attracted you to work at Country Arts WA?
My sister is currently working under the same traineeship program with ANZ as a host employer and she enjoys it very much, as well as receiving a nationally recognised qualification with AFL SportsReady. She recommended I try it and the experience is already very enjoyable. I love the idea that Country Arts WA supports and funds regional cultural and art events, and activities. Being a part of a team with this idea seemed very ideal for me.
What is your favourite place to visit in regional Western Australia?
My favourite part of regional WA that I have experienced so far is the South West region, namely, Margaret River and Bunbury. The beaches, secluded atmosphere and the laid back lifestyles are very refreshing.
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
I’m very dedicated and passionate about visual and performing arts, some of my favourite visual artists include: John Olsen, Brett Whiteley, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh. I enjoy creativity and having an open mind. I love being a part of a team, I play volleyball and I’ve always had a lot of involvement with sports and athletics inside and outside of my schooling.
Tell us about your family.
My family are made up of several different tribal clans from the Nyungar and Kungarakany nation. My father, Walter (Jnr) McGuire, is a Whadjuk, Belladong, Yuat (three clans a part of the Nyungar nation as seen circle below) and my Mother, Margaret McGuire, is a Kungarakany (Northern Territory) woman.
My Father, sister and I are traditional owners of the Southwest region of Australia where the Nyungar nations indigenous land is located.
My Mother, sister and I are also traditional owners of some regions in the Northern Territory that include Litchfield National Park, Bachelor and Rum Jungle (Kungarakany clan circled on map).
These areas are sacred to my family and I, we hold our culture very dear and continue to grow and learn in it. Our culture keeps our family very close.
In the photograph below is Gya Ngoop Kobori (One Blood Dancers) of which my Father is a part of. The group is made up of my uncles (Dad’s brothers and cousins) and my Father. They perform traditional dances that derive from our Nyungar heritage that have been passed down by my grandfathers and great grandfathers.
This is a photo (above) of them standing with my grandfather Walter (Snr) McGuire (second from the left), and a respected chief from the First Nations of Canada with his wife. We shared a traditional meal and ceremony with them that night where we bonded as family with their People.
Although we know there is a sad history for our People, Kungarakany and Nyungar (and many other nations around the world), we always keep a positive mind and try to claim back our rich culture that has been taken from us or lost through hardships.
My culture as it is a huge part of my family’s identity and my identity.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself being well travelled and perhaps studying in visual arts after I have gained some life experience. I hope to develop my skills in my production of art and have further insight or involvement in the arts industry.
Post and headshot image by Gemma Robins, Marketing Officer.