This international collaboration is the result of research and community workshops and sees the artists take over the gallery to share their exploration of cultural rejuvenation and celebration with the wider community.
Featuring new commissions by ten artists from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, Marama Dina considers female iTaukei identities in the diaspora, away from Fiji or away from village life. The artists each consider how their blood lines and contemporary lives come together, and how they embody the past, present and future, connecting with empowering cultural knowledge previously eroded by colonisation and migration.
Artists presenting work in Marama Dina include: Margaret Aull, Torika Bolatagici, Donita Vatuinaruku Hulme, Yasbelle Kerkow, Joana Monolagi, Dulcie Stewart, Salote Tawale, Luisa Tora, MC Trey aka Thelma Thomas and Emele Ugavule.
Marama Dina is an exhibition borne of research and engagement, with ongoing work led by creative research collective The Veiqia Project inspired by the almost-destroyed practice of Fijian female tattooing (veiqia) and the impact of iTaukei practices on diasporic identities.
Members of the project have been in residence at the gallery since October 2017 and during this time have run workshops with women of Fijian ancestry, which were met with overwhelmingly positive responses from the community. Each session exploring iTaukei culture and contemporary arts created a communal space within which participants could seek knowledge and explore what it is to be a ‘Fijian’ woman in Western Sydney.
A highlight of the new exhibition will be a vale ni soqo (village meeting house). The installation will be constructed within the gallery to offer a welcoming space where Pasifika communities can gather, learn and share knowledge.
“It’s been wonderful to see the deep connectivity that The Veiqia Project has generated with the community during their residency at Campbelltown Arts Centre,” said Michael Dagostino, Director Campbelltown Arts Centre. “We’re looking at ways that we can challenge and change the institution by reforming artistic structures, focusing on community-engaged and artist led contemporary arts strategies in Western Sydney.”
“Marama Dina is an example of our unique approach to programming, providing a platform for artists that make a significant contribution to community cohesion and participation.”
Continuing the themes of empowering female artists through culture and practice, and running in conjunction with Marama Dina, a second exhibition, Yirran Miigaydhu will also be on display at Campbelltown Arts Centre.
Yirran Miigaydhu exhibits works of weaving in traditional and contemporary methods, with natural fibres and grasses such as Lomandra and vines harvested in the surrounding area. Led by established weaver and artist Aunty Phyllis Stewart, it is the culmination of artworks produced by a women’s weaving program held at the gallery for the past four years.
“The women (in the group) are from different places, the river to the sea, freshwater women and saltwater women,” said Aunty Phyllis. “The weaving group is also titled Yirran Miigaydhu, meaning ‘many women’ in Dharawal language, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
Since 2015, Aboriginal women in South West Sydney have met once a month at Campbelltown Arts Centre to connect through conversation, sharing stories and interweaving women’s business and wellbeing with creativity. The works converse and reflect on the important relationship between country, plants, seasons, rivers and the ocean, embodying connection and embracing knowledge.
Marama Dina | Yirran Miigaydhu
Campbelltown Arts Centre, 1 Art Gallery Road, Campbelltown
Exhibition: 17 August – 13 October 2019
For more information, visit: www.c-a-c.com.au for details.
Image: Seasea, a meke (type of dance), being performed in Fiji – Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand