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Talks : Indigenous Archives and Storytelling

Saturday, 4 August, 2018
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Federation Hall, Victorian College of the Arts, Grant Street, Southbank

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Contemporary art can reflect and excavate forgotten histories especially tales of dispossession and loss. Indigenous Archives and Storytelling explore invisible voices and narratives, through Indigenous storytelling and yarns.

Join Djon Mundine and artists Karla Dickens and Maree Clarke in a discussion with researcher Greg Lehman and collector Craig Semple, moderated by Ian McLean.

Talks is presented in association with The University of Melbourne, Learning Partner of Melbourne Art Week.


Greg Lehman is currently a McKenzie Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne’s School of Culture and Communication, and a curator and essayist on history, identity and place in Australia. An Indigenous advisor to Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art, Greg together with Tim Bonyhady, recently co-curated The National Picture: the Art of Tasmania’s Black War; a major touring exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. Greg’s current research examines the influence of visual rhetoric on 20th century understandings of indigeneity. He is descended from the Trawulwuy people of north east Tasmania.

Djon Mundine OAM (birthdate undisclosed), member of the Bandjalung people of northern New South Wales, is a curator, writer, artist and activist. He has held prominent curatorial positions in many national and international institutions, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Queensland Art Gallery. He was the concept artist of the Aboriginal Memorial at the National Gallery of Australia in 1988. In 1993 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the promotion and development of Aboriginal arts, crafts and culture.  He is currently an independent curator of contemporary Indigenous art.

Ian McLean is the inaugural Hugh Ramsay Chair in Australian Art History and Acting Head of Australian Indigenous Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He was formerly the Research Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Wollongong. He has published extensively on Australian art and particularly Aboriginal art. His books include Arte Indigena Contemporaneo en AustralienHow Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary ArtWhite Aborigines Identity Politics in Australian Art, and Art of Gordon Bennett (with a chapter by Gordon Bennett).

Maree Clarke, a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung woman from Mildura in northwest Victoria, is a multi disciplinary artist living and working in Melbourne. Maree Clarke is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices. Maree’s continuing desire to affirm and reconnect with her cultural heritage has seen her verification of the traditional possum skin cloaks, together with the production of contemporary jewellery designs of kangaroo teeth necklaces. Traditional body adornments such as Maree Clarke’s reed necklaces are authentically reproduced, but supersized to reflect the scale of the loss of knowledge of cultural practices; she reclaimed the production techniques through her own examination of anthropological text and photography held in academic institutions around the world.

Karla Dickens is an artist of Wiradjuri, Irish and German heritage, who has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Dickens’ important group exhibitions include Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia (2017); The National 2017: New Australian Art, Carriageworks, Sydney and Grounded: Contemporary Australian Art at the National Art School Gallery, Sydney (2017). Her work is held in major collections including the National Gallery of Australia; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney; and Artbank, Sydney. She is represented by Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane.



Assimilated Warriors (detail), 2014.