Three exhibitions will launch Saturday at Melbourne’s Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) to unite audiences in a diverse mix of Indigenous culture.

Eye-catching and thought provoking, all exhibitions have been commissioned through the local community to reflect the natural environment.


Kaiela Dungala

Developed in partnership with Kaiela Arts Shepparton, Kaiela Dungala is an “exploration of Country” and a depiction through textiles of the ebbs and flows of the Kaiela Dungala, or Goulburn Murray river system, on Yorta Yorta Country.

Artists providing artwork for this exhibition include:

  • Suzanne Atkinson
  • Amy Briggs
  • Tammy-Lee Atkinson
  • Cynthia Hardie
  • Norm Stewart
  • Eric Brown
  • Eva Ponting
  • Dylan Charles.

Kaiela Dungala will run from February 29 until April 19 in Gallery 1 of Federation Square’s Yarra Building.


Vessels of Life

A mixed-media installation, Vessels of Life is the result of a partnership project between Shepparton Art Museum and Kaiela Arts.

The initial 2015 project was titled Collisions: Cross-Cultural Collaborations and was a community project that gave artists from Indigenous backgrounds an opportunity to work creatively with Japanese born artist, Naomi Ota.

Artist features include Gunditjmara woman Eva Ponting, and Yorta Yorta women Aunty Cynthia Hardie and Lyn Thorpe.

Vessels of Life (installed at Benalla Regional Art Gallery). Photo by Liz Arcus.

Intricately pieced together, the exhibition is brightly coloured and took over eight months to put together.

The KHT said the different techniques used result in the eye-catching features.

“Through the sharing of ideas, narratives and techniques, the artists engaged in an exploration of cultural difference and similarity, conflict and connection, forging relationships through the exchange of ideas and art-forms,” KHT states on their website.

The exhibition runs between February 29 and April 19 2020 in the Yarra Building in Federation Square, Melbourne (Gallery 2).


Donna Blackall, My Cultural Journey

Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara woman, Donna Blackall, has produced her first solo exhibition. It is also the first Project Gallery show for the KHT for 2020.

Aptly named, My Cultural Journey is a woven exhibition which is said to explore Blackall’s time on Wauthurung country in Ballarat.

Blackall is excited to be showing the exhibition which she explains was created through family knowledge and “respect for cultural foundation”.

“I am very excited to be holding my very own solo exhibition. My weaving is very important to me and I often weave on my own, although I have weaved with other groups such as the Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective as I like to weave with other weavers,” Blackall said.

“I honestly did not see myself as an artist until I was 35 years of age. Mum did always encourage me with cross-stitching when I was younger and I went to a workshop in Ballarat with Aunty Bronwyn [Razem] where we went out by bus to collect plant supplies for weaving.

“When I hold workshops, I bring in my first basket so people do not feel awful about learning.”

Donna Blackall (Yorta Yorta, Taungerong), The Family Crest (2016), New Zealand flax, raffia, wood. Koorie Heritage Trust Collection, AH 3956. Photo by Maia McDonald.

Explaining how the intricate weaving was created, Blackall said she uses New Zealand flax to create the fresh appearance of her pieces.

“I use NZ flax mainly as it does look green and fresh, therefore, it is easier to teach with in a visual sense. Our plant fibres need a little more processing. NZ flax thrives in Ballarat where I live; cold Country,” Blackall said.

“I can spend quite a few hours, weaving in one go, with lots of cuppas, it’s not just a job but reflects family and learning from others such as Aunty Bronwyn … who has been there for me in passing on knowledge, along with what I learnt from family.”

My Cultural Journey is on exhibition from February 29 through to April 19, in the Yarra Building in Federation Square, Melbourne (Level 2).

By Caris Duncan