Baluk Arts is at Linden New Art, St Kilda . 4 May – 23 June 2019 with
Elements, curated by Lisa Waup
Elements acknowledges the importance of the fundamental elements of existence. These are the building blocks of everything within the universe and without these elements of nature neither One or the Other would exist, therefore we would not exist. These five Elements do not only mean – Fire, Earth, Water, Metal and Wood, they also mean Movement, Change and Development. They are forever changing, integrating with each other, moving, decreasing and expanding all the time- and in constant interaction and circulation with each other.
Fire represents Summer and ascending energy, and acknowledges the importance of fire for Indigenous Peoples. Earth represents the Autumn and stabilising, grounding energy while Metal represents late Autumn and the contraction and conservation of energy. Water represents Winter and descending energy such as falling rain or water flowing to the lowest point. Wood represents protection and the ability to grow and expand and the start of anew like Spring.
Baluk Arts artists Tallara Gray (Yadhaigana People – Cape York), Gillian Garvie (Wiradjuri – NSW), Beverley Meldrum (Wirangu – SA), Robert Kelly (Wathaurong – VIC), Cassie Leatham (Taungurung/Wurundjeri – VIC), and Rebecca Robinson (trawlwooolway/Koori – TAS,VIC) unite Country through stories and connect through the elements.
With the generous assistance of sculptural technician Brendan Hackett from Blueprint Sculpture, the artists have been able to incorporate a new element into their practices; bronze.
Combined with natural materials these new bronze elements assist to reveal the stories embedded in evocative and quietly reflective works of personal story, inescapable spirituality and an essential relationship with the natural world.
Gillian revisits sacred ceremony and designs of her Wiradjuri Ancestors and explores the sacred space of her adopted Country through the stories of the Creator spirits. Her works resonate with feelings of loss and trauma, but celebrate the opportunity for rebirth and new directions that these events can precipitate.
Tallara seeks submergence, a deep urge to be comforted through immersion in water. The bathtub becomes the 21st century city dwellers analogy for uninterrupted horizon, reflection of sky and self and a sense of interconnectedness with the larger body.
Robert Kelly shares a story of the three sisters of Wauthaurong Country, ever-present in the foothills of the Brisbane Ranges after the Creator Bundjil performed a magic spell and transformed the three sisters into mountains.
Cassie collects the elements Biik, Wiinj, Baan, Dura and shares with us the abundance available when we connect with our land, waters, mountains and seas. Abalone is used for smudging ceremony and wild clays are combined with other earth forms and feather gifts in collaborative vessels.
Beverley beatifies the sea, her lifelong companion. Bronze casted elements and found materials evoke childhood amongst the tea tree and the smell of seaweed in South Eastern South Australia. She acknowledges the therapeutic and healing properties of saltwater and memento mori of found bones and other treasures of the sea.
Rebecca reflects upon family and thousands of years of connection to Country and an outer identity that sometimes betrays that connection. She examines a broken line of culture, family memories, and the seeds of knowledge that many try to reconnect with.
Entrenched within each work is an exploration of a moment in time, transporting us back to places of connection, memory and the privacy of thought.
lisa waup . carry me softly
“Carry me softly is depicting one family’s loss is another family’s gain – well this was for me anyway. When I first met my birth mother approximately 15 years ago, the first thing that I blurted out of my mouth when I met her was thank you and that I am proud of you. She questioned me with a queried look on her face, and proceeded to asked me why? I replied that through your sacrifice I have been given the most beautiful life possible.’Lisa Waup
My birth line is one of trauma; my great great grandmother was stolen, my mum was in homes at the age of 5, and me a lost generation finding home. I have 3 beautiful children that I could never think of living without them – ever, and through my ancestor’s trauma, I have held on a little tighter to them.”
Lisa screen printed at Spacecraft Studio with Stewart Russell, Danica Miller, and Clara Gladstone, to create a series of works on paper and tapa cloth. These printed images ultimately represent protective shields. Shield to protect the children. Protecting the motherless children. And they protect the chosen children on their altered paths. A dual sided woman surrounded by scattered empty coolamons signifies her two mothers, Lisa’s adopted mother (my mum) holding her as a babe in arms and the second figure representing Lisa’s birth mother (my mum), letting go. The scattered coolamons made from natural materials and discarded objects, found and repurposed, represent the children that have been left, stolen and lost from home, history and Country.
dominic white . above below skin water
Above Below Skin Water is a personal reflection on a past understood through tricks and tensions of history. It explores, through print and sculpture, the meeting place of two elements where surface is created. Above Below Skin Water poetically and metaphorically arranges materials (clay, wood, steel, kelp, resins, shells, textures of skin, surf foam, island shapes) and speculates what happens above and below this surface. It is imagined experience, trials, stories inferred from a past which still resonates in the present.
These reflections are based around “tayaritja”, the Furneaux Group of islands in Bass Strait. These islands were sometimes refuge, but often were a place of slavery, incarnation, wilful political neglect and violence all dependent on context. They were place of commerce and thoughtful living between two cultures and ultimately a community. And they became a shelter for surviving Indigenous culture from which the palawa People could return to Tasmania and the mainland. They were a place where new technology, relationships and perilous contexts were intelligently embraced and negotiated, always within touch of the sea.
This is not a passive story.
The timber and wild clay hulls’ cargo contain, in equal measure, possibility and despair. One hangs upside down and lifeless, buoyant on invisible surface tension, while kelp weeps from its shell. Some seem poised, weaponised to strike; while others speak of alms and offerings to the long dead and lost.
These juxtapose with proud reclamation of identity. Unique patterns of skin bond with paper throughout a long and layered printmaking process which become documentation of identity imprinted from many parts of history, and the buoyancy of Indigenous heritage beyond separation, trauma and violence.
Dominic White recounts these stories to not only understand the history of the Strait but to acknowledge a narrative of reclaiming his own Aboriginal connection to place.
Baluk Arts Artists:
Gillian Garvie, Tallara Gray, Robert Kelly, Cassie Leatham, Beverley Meldrum, Rebecca Robinson
and Lisa Waup, Dominic White
Baluk Arts – Members & Directors
Nicole Chaffey – Manager Baluk Arts
Lisa Waup – Curator and Programs Coordinator Baluk Arts
Blueprint Sculpture – Brendan Hackett
Spacecraft Studio – Stewart Russell, Danica Miller, Clara Gladstone
Linden New Art – Juliette Hanson, Curator and Melinda Martin Director
Axis Arts – Anna McLeod
Department of Communication and the Arts
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