The collection was established in 2021 with a sole focus on contemporary First Nations women artists working in any medium and was curated by Hannah Donnelly with advice and mentorship from Jonathan Jones.
About Hannah and Jonathan
Hannah Donnelly is a Wiradjuri writer, curator and producer. She is currently Producer, First Nations Programs at Information + Cultural Exchange and member of the curatorium for the 23 Biennale of Sydney.
Jonathan Jones is a Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist, curator and researcher. He is currently a researcher at Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney.
About the Exhibition
Visitors to Yirranma Place will walk through the gates created by Uncle Badge Bates and see the Foundation’s core art collection. The dedicated focus of the collection weaves narratives across and between strong Aboriginal women’s voices and custodianship of land, water and culture. The works are each explicitly in dialogue with Australia’s colonial history in various ways. They also contain humour and joy. This is a space which invites connection with our histories, with First Nations knowledges and cultural practices, and to engage in truth-telling.
Drawing from my own heritage and influences as a Wiradjuri woman (who grew up on Gamilaroi Country, and works on Dharug and Gadigal Country), I focused on artists with a connection to South-Eastern Australia. By placing these works and artists in dialogue with each other, the strength of South-Eastern Aboriginal artistic and cultural practices is highlighted.
Through their work, these artists revitalise and continue First Nations cultural practices, while challenging what many people think Aboriginal art should be. The curatorial framework connects to a self-perpetuating cycle of empowerment whereby the act of practicing cultural traditions through contemporary art creates transition to an environment in which practitioners are supported and celebrated. Aboriginal women fulfil roles of healing and maintenance from weaving and shellwork to reimagining string bags and ceremony. These works bear witness to the continuous and reciprocal passing of knowledge and ways of seeing and knowing through matrilineal lines.
This collection also reflects the Foundation’s desire to walk beside First Nations people and to support our goals of self-determination. Building thriving communities is deeply related to the revitalisation of cultural practices and caring for Country. Each artist is working with materials and stories about the protection of the environment. They show us new ways and share age-old wisdom to nurture a sustainable planet where our communities will not only survive but also flourish. We learn to look after the places we live, honour the resilience of our communities, and remember whose ancestral land we stand on.