Indigenous Artist

N0000, N2359, N2351, N2402

Public Description: 

Featuring a series of blown-glass domes or jars, Scarce reflects on the containment and classification of Indigenous peoples since colonisation. Enclosed in glass domes with a cracked and fractured finish, photographs of family members are displayed in a natural history museum-style fashion. Prior to the 1967 Referendum, Aboriginal people were classified under the Commonwealth Government’s Flora and Fauna Act. Scarce’s work references this policy, with images of her ancestors displayed like specimens under a bell-jar. These photographs were retrieved from the South Australian Government Archives and are presented with their reference numbers fully intact — Australian Aboriginal people were often photographed and tagged with identity numbers, just like common criminals and prison inmates.

The first bell jar contains glass indigenous fruit. This outlines the comparison between flora and Indigenous peoples and how they once held a shared place in the white Australian conscience. The cracked finish of the bell jars make it difficult to see the photographs clearly. This references the recording of Aboriginal history since colonial settlement, the truth of which is fractured and contested.

Yhonnie Scarce was born in Woomera, South Australia, and belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples. Scarce holds a Master of Fine Arts from Monash University. She is one of the first contemporary Australian artists to explore the political and aesthetic power of glass, describing her work as ‘politically motivated and emotionally driven’. In 2015 Scarce exhibited internationally in Hong Kong, Vancouver, Berlin, Japan and Italy and was involved in several major projects around Australia including the Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary and Torres Strait Islander Art.

Cognitive Dissonance #2

Public Description: 

Steaphan Paton found this traditional tapestry (maker unknown) and actively intervened in its aesthetic and meaning by stitching in his own hand. His interventions are striking; they seek to bring to life the realities of the impact of colonialism on the first nation's peoples and the fact there were battles between the original custodians of the land and white settlers. This work was acquired following its inclusion in the exhibition ‘Re-visioning Histories’, curated by Yhonnie Scarce and Claire Watson.

Steaphan Paton is a member of the Gunaikurnai and Monero Nations. His work explores colonialism, tradition and concepts of race and conflict. Influenced by his home country, Gippsland and his experiences, Paton uses painting, sculpture, installation and video to articulate his worldview. In 2016 Paton completed a Master of Contemporary Art from the VCA. His work is held in many public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia, the Melbourne Museum and the Brooklyn Art Library in New York.

Regrowth after the fires

Public Description: 

In Regrowth after the fires, Gwen Garoni (1933-2014) powerfully demonstrates the devastation wrought on the landscape by the all engulfing Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009. This compelling pictorial narrative is informed by Garoni’s intimate knowledge and deep connection to the land of her ancestors. The hills and valleys of her Taurgurong country are laid bare, devoid of trees and vegetation, homes are burned out and the cost of human and wildlife loss is catastrophic. In the aftermath of the worst bushfires in Australia’s history, the healing process of nature’s regrowth begins.

Aunty Gwen Garoni was a respected Victorian Koori Elder and a descendant of the Taungurong people of north-east Victoria. Her work reflects upon the significance of place, family connections and cultural identity. Her art is grounded in her love of Country and explores the Australian landscape, ancestral memories and early colonial history.

Garoni was a winner of the DATSICC emerging artist award for the Gumbri White Dove Acquisitive Prize (2006 and 2010), a finalist in the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards (2006 and 2007) and a finalist in the ANL Maritime Art Prize (2009 and 2011). Her artwork is held in public and private collections.

Regrowth after the fires © Gwen Garoni

Wombat Dreaming

Public Description: 

Trevor ‘Turbo’ Brown loves animals and has created a body of work entirely based around them. This large painting shows two big wombats and one smaller one, standing outside their dark burrow. They are surrounded by a border of white clouds in a blue sky. 'Turbo''s work may seem naïve with its simple forms, but there is a great energy and skill in his use of composition, colour and line. He uses bright colours and bold outlines, painting quickly with unmixed acrylic paint. The painting is a public favourite within the City of Darebin, and has often hung in public spaces including Darebin Libraries and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.

Living rough on the Mildura streets and the Murray River bank, 'Turbo' has said that animals were his only friends. He was adopted by Herb Patten and his wife, Aunty Bunta and moved to Melbourne where he took up boxing and became a keen rapper and breakdancer. Uncle Herb and Aunty Bunta enrolled in a diploma of visual arts at the Bundoora RMIT campus and took 'Turbo' along. There he began to paint. It soon became apparent that he had a talent for expressing on canvas the stories and images from his mind.

'Turbo' holds a Diploma of Arts (Visual Arts) from RMIT Melbourne, which he completed in 2004 and his first solo exhibition at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne, was a sell-out.