Based in the Hunter region NSW, Speaking in Colour is Aboriginal-owned and a leading provider of:

Speaking in Colour has built a solid reputation for presenting engaging training and innovative workshops, and providing easy-to-use educational resources. We help a broad spectrum of our community. From corporate business and government (including local councils), to community groups, regional art galleries and schools.

Our experiences and tools embrace Aboriginal perspectives and foster powerful, positive relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Our logo visualises a map of Australia, representing Aboriginal land. The quotation marks suggest Aboriginal Australia has a lot to say – and we find many ears willing to listen. We would like to credit Una Rey for coining the phase ‘Speaking in Colour’ which perfectly represents how Aboriginal people express themselves through art and culture.

Speaking in Colour also provides staff training and development in Aboriginal education techniques, as well as design services for annual reports, logos and public art commissions.


Speaking in Colour is owned and operated by Aboriginal arts and education consultant, Cherie Johnson.

“As an educator and artist I know that communication across the generations is the key way to effect change in our society. In the true spirit of reconciliation I share my story and my skills so that people can build a better understanding of our diverse Indigenous cultures.”

Cherie Johnson is a Gamilaroi and Weilwun woman who resides in Newcastle, NSW and participates as an active member of the Awabakal Community. Her grandmother, Rachal Darcy, was born on the Beemunnal Mission in Warren, NSW. Cherie is a PHd candidate researching the effects of urban Aboriginal Women coming to culture and the importance in the contemporary context. She is also a highly regarded lecturer in Aboriginal culture and education and is currently a casual lecturer at the University of Newcastle.

Cherie was awarded a Diploma in Teaching from the University of Newcastle in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Sydney in 2001. She has also studied dance through the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA).

Cherie Johnson is also available as a keynote speaker for conferences, events, forums and panel discussions.

Cherie Johnson: Aboriginal cultural trainer, workshop facilitator and event speaker


Anita Watts

Anita Watts is a Wiradjuri  woman who resides in Newcastle, NSW. Her father’s people are  from Darlington Point the Riverina area of NSW. Her grandmother was born at Warengesda Mission.


Annissa Harwood

Annissa Harwood is a proud Aboriginal woman who resides in Lake Macquarie, NSW


Daniella Chedzey

Daniella Chedzey is a proud Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan woman of the Pilaarrkiyalu Pilar tree Mayi, I am also a registered traditional owner for Mount Grenfell.


Dawn Conlan

Dawn Conlan is a proud Gomilaroi Woman, mother of four and grandmother to five. Dawn has extensive experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities at grass roots level.


Vicki Winters

I am a proud Aboriginal woman from the Gamilaraay and Yuin Nations. I have lived in Newcastle all my life and am the proud mother of two beautiful boys..


Luke Russel

Luke Russell is a very proud Worimi man. I am unbelievably privileged to be have the opportunity to learn and pass on the ingenious knowledge of my old people. I have been fortunate enough, over the years, to learn and work with some truly genuine knowledge holders who are helping me on this journey.


Lynelle Elliot

Lynelle Elliott is a very proud Wiradjuri woman living in beautiful Darkenjung country on the Central Coast.
I am an artist with a deep interest in creating pieces that express my connection to Country, people and spirituality.


Robbie Hyde

Robbie Hyde is a proud Saibai man who was born in Newcastle City and grew up on Awabakal & Worimi Nations, he has a strong cultural up bringing passed down through his Saibai families.


Shellie Smith

Shellie is an 8th generation Novocastrian, tracing her family history back through 7 generations of women to the time of Newcastle’s colonial settlement and the last of the Awabakal people to live a traditional life. She uses a combination of research and art practice to reconnect to her aboriginal heritage.


Tamara Jackson

Tamara Jackson is a proud Wonnarua woman who has received her HSC and recently commenced studying a Bachelor of Aboriginal Professional Practice at the University of Newcastle. I started with Speaking in Colour in 2016 as a weaving supplier


Tammy Small

Tammy Small (Gordon) is a proud Wiradjuri woman who grew up in the Western Sydney area and spent a lot of time with family in Condobolin.


Jaimie Carpenter

I am a proud Kamilaroi (Quirindi) woman who resides on Awabakal land (Newcastle) and works with Speaking in Colour as the reservations coordinator.


Jonathan Wright

Jonathan is a proud Gamilaroi/Dunghutti man, who has been raised on the Darkingjung country.

About Aboriginal Culture

Aboriginal Australia is a large and complex nation with hundreds of traditional languages each of which can have several dialects.

Each tribe’s boundaries and population has varied over time as vast changes occurred in the landscape. This has given rise to a variety of customs and art styles. Historically, Aboriginal people did not create imagery for aesthetic reasons; mark making, colours and motifs all had purpose and varied in each region. Most often they were ceremonial in purpose and were used to transmit information across the generations.


Today, it is inappropriate for a person, especially a person of Aboriginal decent, to create ‘Aboriginal Art’ out of context; meaning they do not have permission to paint a story, use particular motifs or borrow a style from country other than from where their Aboriginal family is from. The difficulty now after so much interruption to the transferring of our culture is the seeming missing historical links and information. I understand many are hungry to revive and learn more about their ancestry. This hunger should not lead people to create artwork that is copied from other places. By doing this you are disrespecting the traditional owners of that place and Aboriginal people as a whole.


Join one of our workshops or If you are an Aboriginal person then look to your family’s country for inspiration. Connect with your Elders and listen to the stories from that country. Understand why the people created the visual and performing arts. Then recreate those stories in a contemporary way: on canvas, in a script or as a sculpture. This does not make your artwork any less Aboriginal, because that is who you are, no one can take that away from you.


As a contemporary artist I create work influenced and inspired by my Aboriginal culture and traditions. It is my intention to develop concepts and visual formats that are new rather than borrowed ‘traditional’ looking techniques such as dot painting and rarrk (cross hatching). In my region we are reviving ancient techniques such as weaving swamp reeds and sewing possum skin cloaks. This is done to bring back traditional techniques that can be used to create modern artworks that convey what it is to be an Aboriginal person right now.

– Cherie Johnson, Speaking In Colour


The symbolic meaning of the colours is described by the flag’s designer, Mr Harold Thomas: Black represents the Aboriginal people of Australia; Red represents the red earth, the red ochre and a spiritual relation to the land; Yellow represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector.


The late Bernard Namok designed this flag. The dhari (head dress) represents Torres Strait Island people while the five pointed star represents the 5 major island groups. The star also represents navigation, as a symbol of the seafaring culture of the Torres Strait. Each colour symbolizes an aspect of Torres Strait Islander culture. Green represents the land; Blue represents the sea; White represents peace; Black represents the Indigenous peoples


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