Tuesday, 9 June 2015

One of my favourite 'instillations'

Arriving at the carpark at Victoria Gardens (in inner Melbourne) for my weekly supermarket shop I am always reminded of my favourite aboriginal art instillation at the National Gallery of Victoria - Australia (NGVA). So let's begin with the carpark entrance! 
Boom gates to the right! Just out of sight!
There is of course no explanation regarding the designer, maker, and any other useful bits and pieces. It's just there! And I wonder how many people even notice it! (Except me!)

But nothing can compare to the extraordinary creation that adorns the wall of the NGVA. It's a show-stopper.  It has an entire wall to itself.
Possum-skin cloak: Blackfella Road. 2011-13
It is made entirely of weathered iron, tin, fencing and barbed wire and wire ties. The artist Lorraine Connelly-Nortey is a Waradgeri and was born in 1962. I'll let her tell the story of the cloak. 

"It is my interpretation of a possum-skin cloak. The barbed wire signifies the desecration of Aboriginal skeletal remains, occasioned by the construction of an unsealed road near Swan Hill. The circular forms indicate the different modes of transport using this road. The fringe of the cloak represents hunters and gatherers whose remains were desecrated."

Now let's have a look at it up close.
My fingers ache just looking at the painstaking work of weaving barbed wire and cutting out the hands
The fringe 'hands' - cut from rusty iron
There is something haunting about it - the desecration of Aboriginal skeletal remains in order to make an unsealed road. Now they will not be forgotten. 

This is probably an opportune time to make note of the current RECOGNISE movement which is to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in our Constitution. I was stunned to learn that when the Australian Constitution came into effect in 1901 that the founding document did not recognise the original peoples of this land. And prior to the 1967 referendum, they were excluded from being counted as citizens or voting in their own country! And did you know that our Constitution still includes the fact that people can be banned from voting based on race. Sadly. Unbelievable.
R = the RECOGNISE logo
So every time I pop into the shopping centre for a visit to the supermarket or Ikea I will be reminded of RECOGNISE and of the powerful story of a rusty iron instillation. This story is one that continues to be repeated again and again throughout this land of ours.

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