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Monash University Museum of Art | MUMA celebrates 2018 NAIDOC Week (8-15 July)

NAIDOC Week is an important national event, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Monash University Museum of Art | MUMA is very proud to be able to be a part of NAIDOC Week and to recognise the important contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curators, artists and writers to our program, the Monash University Collection and life on campus.

Christian Thompson @ MPavilion, Monash University, Clayton Campus

Visit MPavilion during NAIDOC week to be immersed in artist, Christian Thompson’s sonic artwork Phantom 2018. Thompson is a Bidjara man from central southwestern Queensland who sings in his father’s endangered language. This evocative and beguiling soundscape draws on traditional names of plants from his Country. Thompson is increasingly recognised for his works in language, which are motivated by the idea that if even one word of Bidjara is spoken, it continues to be a living language.

In 2017, MUMA presented Christian Thompson: Ritual intimacy, which was co-curated by MUMA’s Director Charlotte Day and leading Indigenous curator Hetti Perkins. This was the first survey exhibition of Thompson’s work and toured to Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane and UNSW Galleries, Sydney. Recently, Thompson was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in The Queen's Birthday 2018 Honours List.

First Languages

Our First languages of the Monash University Collection program brings together newly commissioned texts by First Nations and non-English-speaking writers and translators that contextualise artworks held in the collections of Monash University and the Monash Indigenous Centre. This program recognises the profound role languages play in understanding and transmitting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, law, art, philosophy, astronomy, biology, spirituality, history and much more.

Yorta Yorta and Wamba Wamba woman, Belinda Briggs, has curated the second year of this language program and we are thrilled to launch new writing in palawa kani, Yorta Yorta, Yolŋu and English by First Nations writers and linguists: Kerrie Clarke (Gunai and Monero), Shonae Hobson (Kaantju), Ebony Joachim (Yorta Yorta), Ngarra Murray (Yorta Yorta and Wamba Wamba), Zoe Rimmer (Pakana) and Theresa Sainty (Pakana). In addition, MUMA has also invited Pitjantjatjara artist, Teresa Baker, to write on her work, Minyma Malilunya 2015, in language, along with Quandamooka artist, Megan Cope, who has worked in collaboration with Sandra Delaney on a Jandai text to accompany her forthcoming site-specific installation, Weelam Ngalut (Our Place) 2018. Look out for these texts accompanying artworks around campus or read them here.

We are grateful to the Copyright Council for their support of this program.

Recent acquisitions into the Monash University Collection

With this year’s NAIDOC week dedicated to the power and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait women, we draw your attention to a number of important recent acquisitions to the Monash University Collection that are prominently displayed around campus. These include works by Teresa Baker (Caulfield Library), Maree Clarke, Fiona Foley, Tracey Moffat and Vicki West (Matheson Library), Yhonnie Scarce, Judy Watson and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu (Monash Business), amongst others.

If you haven’t already, check out the ambitious, suspended installation, Kulata Tjuta 2012-2014, which is the centrepiece of the newly renovated Matheson Library entrance at Clayton. The title of this artwork translates to ‘spears in flight’, and comprises 277 hand-carved spears made by a group of senior men working with young men from the Tjala Arts Centre in the community of Amata in South Australia and with Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones, who is based in Sydney.

The library also plays host to an exceptional work by Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung/Wemba Wemba woman, Maree Clarke, who works across numerous disciplines as an artist (including photography, painting, sculpture and jewellery), and is renowned for her work in reviving south-eastern Aboriginal Australian art practices. Thung-ung Coorang (Kangaroo teeth necklace) 2013 revives a cultural tradition that had not been practiced in over one hundred years.

MUMA Education in partnership with Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS)

Through MUMA Education we have invited Indigenous artists to lead workshops with students from the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS).

MITS worked with Megan Cope, a Quandamooka woman from North Stradbroke Island in southeast Queensland. Cope’s sculptural installations, video works and paintings explore myths related to colonisation and issues concerning identity and the environment.

Following a series of workshops with Cope, students worked with archives and historical maps to explore ways of expressing their own connection to Country through maps, language and totems, with twelve Indigenous languages represented in the finished site-specific installation, titled Our Country.

‘Art is the deadliest thing about our mob, art is for everyone, everyone can do it whether its dance, painting or sculpture. We have that and it gives us opportunities right through life. It’s about saying that we’re still here, we’ll continue to be here, we never left. This is our Country we’ve got nowhere else to go and so it is important to include us.’ – Megan Cope 2018