17 May 2023

Meet the Wiradjuri artist adding another dimension to teaching First Nations culture through animation

| Jarryd Rowley
Join the conversation
man in park

Local animator Bernard Higgins is helping present Wiradjuri culture in a unique fashion with his brand of 3D animations. Photo: Wagga Wagga City Council.

Bernard Higgins is a proud Wiradjuri man. Growing up in the Riverina, Bernard has taken pride in his heritage from a young age and since graduating from CSU in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours), he has taken his skills in animation and provided a unique way to showcase his culture.

In his youth, Bernard read comic books and played video games. He enjoyed artworks and took the time to properly appreciate each artist’s unique perspective.

READ ALSO Riverina Rewind: Back when the Wagga City Band had us tapping our toes

“I was always a good artist and had those dreams in the back of my head of creating something special of my own, but it was always something that I thought was not realistic,” he said.

“I went back to uni 2013-ish and was doing chemistry and microbiology just to get qualifications.

“I didn’t like it, I wasn’t enjoying chemistry, so I looked at what was available because I was studying at Wagga and had the animation course. I switched over and ended up loving it.

3D animation

Bernard uses 3D animations created with Unreal Engine to help his artworks come to life. Photo: Creative Riverina.

“I specialise in 3D animations in Unreal Engine, where I mainly convert or scan artworks and make them come alive.”

Bernard is one of Wagga’s most gifted animators, which was seen in his work at CSU.

In 2020, Bernard received a philanthropic grant from CSU to support his honours research.

His studies led him to Far North Queensland, where he would co-design educational animations with remote Indigenous communities.

“I went to Queensland and worked with First Nations elders and the community in Yarrabah, which is a remote community near Cairns.

“We used animations to help understand communities’ needs with things like educational resources for young people regarding Hendra virus and other infectious diseases.”

His work in Far North Queensland earned Bernard the Best Honours Presentation prize at the 2020 CSU Faculty of Science HDR Symposium, and he was asked to present his research at ORCURA 2020 and Artstate NSW.

Bernard now works alongside Wollundry Dreaming, a First Nations community centre that highlights Wiradjuri artworks and cultural practice.

“I’ve done a series of films in Wiradjuri language while working with their elders in Leeton,” he said.

“My work in Wagga will be similar to that of what I was doing up in Far North Queensland and Leeton. I’ll be working with the elders and the community, finding out what they need and looking at how I can create it with the skills that I’ve got and then trying to find a way to make it accessible to the Wiradjuri community.

READ ALSO Meet Gennelle, the organisational whiz lightening the load for hospital patients

“It’s something that I’m looking forward to being a part of. For example, one of the projects we’re working on at the moment will be projected on the side of a water tower, which will be an awesome experience to be a part of.”

Bernard said he was proud of the work he had done in the animation space but wished to continue his work beyond his part-time commitments.

“I want people to enjoy my work but also be educated by it,” he said.

“Wiradjuri culture is so important to this area, and being able to contribute to the education of that culture to the people of the region is really important to me going forward.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.