A PUBLIC art project to be installed in the Hepburn Hub will showcase Indigenous culture and traditional weaving practices.
Aunty Marilyne Nicholls, who is a Dja Dja Wurrung/ Yorta Yorta/Baraba Baraba/Wadi Wadi and Jupagulk woman will work to create the major permanent art project in collaboration with Canberra Glassworks.
Connecting contemporary art and design practice with traditional Dja Dja Wurrung culture, the work will be comprised of a combination of two handwoven fish traps alongside three glass blown fish traps.
While each component will be about 120cm, the individual pieces of blown glass and dried reed fish traps will be suspended to form a large and impressive artwork, which will be installed at the Hepburn Hub at The Rex building in Daylesford upon its completion.
Aunty Marilyne uses weaving techniques in her works which enhance the characteristics of the natural reed fibres and promote understanding of place, community and identity.
While she has been weaving for a little over 30 years, she recalls her mother and grandmother constantly collecting sedges to weave into baskets and mats.
Weaving is a skill which has been passed down through generations of her family and one which she learnt gradually and has more recently begun to teach in order to share the skill with the broader community.
"Learning to weave was a gradual skill... and over time l have learnt this from the women in my family," Aunty Marilyne said.
"Since my grandmother passed over, my mother has been my biggest mentor with my weaving.
"My mother is 89 years and keenly talks about weaving techniques and is happy the skill has been passed down to another generation."
Her creative process begins when she ventures out on country - where she enjoys visiting the waterways where she knows the sedges used for weaving grow.
"Like most wetland native plants, throughout the year the weaving sedges grow at different stages.
"l find being out on Country and seeing the sedges growing in a natural way is inspiring and from this l think about weaving with the plant."
The blown glass fish traps, to be created by Canberra Glassworks, will be an interpretation of Aunty Marilyne's work.
They will be produced from moulds of the fibre traps and so will have a rich texture which will mimic the dried reeds.
Julie Skate, Chief Executive Officer of Canberra Glassworks, said the artwork would illustrate "both the loss and retention of traditional cultural practices".
The combination of the two very different mediums in one artwork provides a strong visual and physical contrast.Julie Skate
"The combination of the two very different mediums in one artwork provides a strong visual and physical contrast," Ms Skate said.
"The transparency of the glass fish trap speaks of memory and loss - the visible hand of the artist in the woven reeds of immediacy and permanence."
Aunty Marilyne's work has been exhibited around Australia and the world and has been collected by the National Gallery of Victoria, AIATSIS in Canberra, the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne and the Swan Hill Regional Gallery.
Her mother, who is also a well-known weaver, has for many years taught weaving and exhibited her works. The Koorie Heritage Trust has a collection of woven baskets created by her mother and grandmother.
Aunty Marilyne said it was important to create public Indigenous artworks.
"I think that it is important to create artworks for public to see and to create awareness and understanding, especially artworks that tell a story about country, culture and the people.
I think that it is important to create artworks for public to see and to create awareness and understanding, especially artworks that tell a story about country, culture and the people.Aunty Marilyne
"I feel honoured to be working with Julie Skate [to] gain an understanding of how art created with glass can be shaped to reflect my culture with a different art medium.
"It will be an interesting and creative journey with wonderful artworks for public to enjoy looking at."
Ms Skate said that while she had not worked with Aunty Marilyne before, she had viewed her work at AIATSIS and at the Koorie Heritage Trust.
"When I read the callout for the public artwork, my first thought was of her work and how it would translate into glass."
The company has worked with other Indigenous artists such as Tony Albert, Maree Clarke and Megan Cope, none of whom had worked in glass prior to the collaborations.
"We all found the collaborations to be enjoyable and the end results quite remarkable," Ms Skate said.
Hepburn Shire Council said it was thrilled to commission such a significant artwork as part of the Shire's recognition to the Traditional Owners in the new civic space.
Art, Culture and Reconciliation Officer, Donna Spiller, said the council was committed to reconciliation and working with the Dja Dja Wurrung in the processes for new projects in order to incorporate Dja Dja Wurrung language, artwork and acknowledgement of traditional owners.
"The commission of this public art work is important because it delivers cultural learning opportunities and creates awareness, for residents and visitors, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and achievements," Ms Spiller said.
"This artwork will inspire discussion on traditional cultural practices, the need to care for Country and how we can work together to create something special for future generations to admire.
"Ultimately I think it is a sign of respect. We are on Dja Dja Wurrung Country."
IN OTHER NEWS
The Dja Dja Wurrung Public Art Project was commissioned by Hepburn Shire Council for $30,000.
Sample tests have been made, so work on the project will begin soon. The artwork will be installed in April 2021.