The graduating exhibition from the School of Art Indigenous Art Unit showcases the work of Elders and students from the Diploma of Visual Art and notably all are women. The exhibition title Chulkuuk (meaning ‘respect’ in the Gunditjmara dialect) is fitting for such strong dedicated Indigenous women and Elders who have completed their studies in Bundoora. The sense of camaraderie and community the Indigenous Art Unit brings is evident in this exhibition.
Our graduating exhibition highlights the dedication of each student and showcases the caliber of work that has been produced during the years of study. Holding an exhibition at The School of Art Gallery, allows the work to speak in a venue of contemplation. The work goes beyond the studios to an environment that allows stories to be told to a wider audience.
Some of our students are women from Kalkadoon/Kandju, Bungalung Country, Yorta Yorta and from the Murray River Region. The work reflects these regions and expresses the life of the traditional owners.
The artworks in Chulkuuk tell a story about community, identify and art making. Our Elders’ artworks highlight historical antidotes of their life. Viewing Aunty Gwen Garoni and Aunty Frances Gallaghers’ bush landscapes, speaks of happiness and vibrancy and an honest account of their homeland and where they grew up.
Lorraine Nelson, Leah Walke and Elaine Williams artwork showcases traditions from community whilst employing contemporary art practices to create paintings, drawings, prints and jewellery.
The learning I have received from each of our student’s has been inspiring. It has been a wonderful journey to know each of these artists and I look forward to the next stage of their artistic endeavours.
Belinda Wilson Program
Manager School of Art RMIT University
Chulkuuk means ‘respect’ in the Gunditjmara dialect of Victoria’s Western District. It was chosen by the Elders and students of the Indigenous Arts Unit to indicate the respect for ancestors and Country expressed within their art. This exhibition is a culmination of many years of visual arts study, conveying a passion for colour as well as an exploration of various art mediums traditional and western.
The Elders represented in this exhibition are Aunties Frances Gallagher and Gwen Garoni. They both work within landscape depictions of their respective Gunditjmara and Taungerong tribal lands. Their paintings on first impression may appear as colourful renderings; however, they are visually honouring their lands, they convey an underlying message about importance of Country in Koori life.
The Aunties are the mentors of the Unit and an inspiration to the younger students conveying their passion for art and knowledge of culture. They arrive to the Unit each week by taxi, laden down with their heavy bags of art materials and new paintings. This is followed by coffee and conversation with staff and students in topics ranging from family, community and local news to debate and discussion on the latest art controversy.
The working space of the Elders is permeated by talkback radio while down the other end of the Unit, loud and good humoured laughs could be heard resonating from the open studio space of Leah Walke, Elaine Williams and Lorraine Nelson, When large canvases are on the go, it is a scene of great energy and activity. Leah explores harmony in form within her tonal oil works; Elaine devises thoughtful and well-composed landscapes in her acrylic works while Lorraine constructs vibrant coloured inks on canvas. On the hotter days at the Unit their studio door is left open, the surrounding landscape of the Bundoora campus forming a green and serene backdrop against their busy artworks.
The Elders’ and students’ time at the Unit has been a very productive one as the Unit follows the Indigenous events calendar by producing exhibitions in observance of Reconciliation and NAIDOC Weeks. This graduation show is the final stage in their study and so we offer them congratulations and good wishes in their next art adventures.
Sharon West, Visual Arts Teacher
Thank you to TAFE teaching staff Sharon West, Simon Rose, Kirsten Lyttle, Clare Humphries, Loretta Quinn, Program Manager Belinda Wilson, Administrator Ninna Cikoja and Technician Stephen Cottrill. Thank you to Uncle Herb and Prof. Jeremy Diggle, Head of School, Art.
For ongoing student support thank you to the RMIT Ngarara Willim Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
We would also like to thank the Gallery staff, Stephen Gallagher, Andrew Tetzlaff, Adriane Hayward and Anabelle Lacroix.
It's Got Legs
Honour Graduate Exhibition