Last weekend Hearth Galleries was launched with much excitement. Here are my thoughts on opening day...
'The hearth is a place to sit around a fire, a place of gathering, for stories and for celebrating shared culture. The hearth provides the flickering light of hope, collaboration and optimism.
Within the word ‘hearth’ lies other words, heart, earth and art. My hope is for a celebration of art that expresses love for the earth, whether we are artists, curators, art-lovers, collaborators.
This project would not have been possible without many of you here today. This project has been a collaboration from the start.
In the 80’s Mum ran a successful gallery just around the corner, literally four doors away, the Old Mechanic’s Institute Gallery. I lived upstairs in the attic room and it was an amazing time, I was in my 20’s, there was a constant series of exhibitions and openings, artist talks, art classes, life drawing classes, a busy tea-room (herstory, pre café-culture). There were school student exhibitions, local artists and a constant flow of visitors in and out. As Mum became more interested in doing research trips on Mechanics Institutes, I covered the gallery for her. I loved sharing an interest in art with others. Mum taught me so much about building relationships, the importance of communications and a professional business approach. Some of the many things she has taught me and shared with me.
Mum has been in this idea from the start. I’ve grown up in a home deeply passionate about our First Peoples, and about the environment. And I in turn have made a home with my son, deeply passionate about art, and the role of art to disturb, to comfort, to heal. Art in politics, art in societal change, art as a tool for celebration.
When I got to Yuendumu last year, and met the Warlukurlangu Artists and the managers, Cecilia and Gloria, and the rest of the art centre team, the idea of coming back to Healesville and starting up a gallery cemented. My deep gratitude is to these people in Yuendumu, here today in spirit and in support.
Coming home with this idea I received passionate support from friends, some supported the pop-up at the Senior Citizens Club, others sent constant messages of encouragement and moral support, from near and far. Even people I haven’t even met but know through facebook, including a lady, Dorothy, in the USA who ran a feminist bookshop for many years, sends constant messages of support!
I thank Lana and Gary for helping with renovations on the last day of their holidays. I thank Em and Lola for helping with catering today and for Em’s deep calm that always got me through intense days at the botanic gardens.
I thank Leila for searing intellectual debate and art lessons and I thank Ben for his wonderful canvas stretching.
When I returned I wanted to meet Dr Lois Peeler AM at Worawa, knowing she had a connection to Yuendumu and Nyirripi too, she having been there, met the artists, and also having hosted a visit by Cecilia the manager here in Healesville.
I thank Dr Lois, Lisa and the team at Worawa Aboriginal College for being an inspiring example of professionalism, hard work, passion, love and commitment.
Today I am thrilled to have some extraordinary work by the Worawa students, including one by Tianna who is from Yuendumu.
Heartfelt thanks go to my RBG sisters, lifelong friends, sacred rebels. There isn’t words enough to express my gratitude. You are here today some near some far, always by my side.
Thanks to the friendly support of the West-end business owners. We will make the West-end rock. I’ve felt welcomed back home by your friendly faces.
Last but not least I want to thank my family.
I thank my dear son Alvaro for a wonderful careful painting job and our shared passion in art, nature and culture. His amazing help at the pop-up carrying endless things back and forth.
I want to express my deep love gratitude and appreciation to Mum and her partner Rob. They have been into the idea from the start, immersed themselves in the three days of the weekend pop-up at the Senior Citizens, wrapping artworks, making tea, cooking meals, giving me a haven in transition. Rob who is new to the art scene is quickly becoming an aficionado! They have been up to the gallery every two days, helping with menial tasks, décor decisions and challenges, the fun and the hard slog, the creative decision-making processes.
They are both amazing and inspirational and the biggest truth is I could not have done it without them.
I hereby open hearth galleries with love, hope and gratitude. I hope you can join me in future exhibitions, indigenous, non-indigenous art, local and work from further afield, all speaking of the love and the stories of our shared earth
Today I am also opening this brilliant exhibition of work from the Warlukurlangu Artists.
More than a celebration of survival, more than a beautiful statement of colour and composition, this work gives us hope.
Ancient iconography and jukurrpa (dreaming stories) told in contemporary styles ranging from expressionism, pictorial, naïve, blended with traditional, always a new way of using dots. Drawing us deeply into the ancient stories of this land and its ecological processes.
I love the stories of plants like Desert fringe-rush Seed Dreaming, Lukurarra Jukurrpa, for example by artist, Serena Nakamarra Shannon.
I love the stories of animals like the Brushtailed Possum Dreaming, Janganpa Jukurrpa and the amazing variety of interpretation within each of the Jukurrpas.
I love the Karnta Jukurrpa or women’s dreaming stories like Valerie Napanangka Marshall’s iconic work.
I hereby launch Warlukurlangu Artists and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you!