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Maree Clarke
Language group: Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti
Thung-ung Coorang (Kangaroo teeth necklace) 2013

kangaroo teeth, leather, sinew, earth pigmen
8.0 x 130.0 cm
Monash University Collection, Purchased 2016


Maree Clarke (b. 1961) is a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung/Wemba Wemba woman from Mildura in northwest Victoria. She works across numerous disciplines as an artist (including photography, painting, sculpture and jewellery), and is renowned for her work in reviving southeastern Aboriginal Australian art practices.

When Clarke first moved to Melbourne, she made a living as a jewellery maker. When Clarke made her the first kangaroo tooth necklace with Len Tregonning and Rocky Tregonning in 2008, they revived a cultural tradition that had not been practiced in over one-hundred years. To make a necklace such as Thung-ung Coorang 2013, Clarke begins by collecting the teeth from dead kangaroos on the sides of the roads in Mildura and Broken Hill. This entails crushing the skulls, removing the teeth from the jaw and skull, then soaking the teeth in water for three weeks. For a seventy-five-tooth necklace, the maker needs forty kangaroos, as only the front two teeth can be used. In addition, Clarke along with members of her family collect ochre and wattle resin to paint the leather, and use emu oil to soften up the ochre-painted leather when it becomes too stiff. Clarke was inspired to revive this tradition when she viewed historical nineteenth-century examples of kangaroo necklaces in the collection of Museum Victoria. This work combines men's and women's business: Rocky and Len Tregonning were responsible for skinning the kangaroos and preparing the skin and sinew from the tail, which is used to secure the teeth to the leather and headband.

Bibliography:

  • Sonia Hartford, 'Maree Clarke's startling ghostly images fill new Koorie Heritage Trust home at Federation Square,' The Age, 30 June 2015.
  • Charlotte King and Jenni Henderson, 'Internationally renowned artist Maree Clarke holds her first solo show at home,' ABC Mildura– Swan Hill, 12 September 2011, http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2011/09/12/3315500.htm,accessed 18 March 2016.

For further information or to view the artwork, please contact MUMA's Collection Curator: kirrily.hammond@monash.edu



Photo: © Simon Anderson, courtesy Maree Clarke and Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne