Between Waves opens at ACCA

ACCA-Cassie-Sullivan-Mayana-Trawna-Body-Country-2021The Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts (ACCA) presents Between Waves – a major new exhibition featuring ten ambitious commissions by emerging and established First Nations artists that embrace the intersection of material and immaterial realms of knowledge and knowing.

Between Waves is the third edition of the Yalingwa exhibition series that supports the development of outstanding contemporary First Peoples art and curatorial practice in Southeast Australia. Curated by Jessica Clark, the exhibition features new works by Maree Clarke, Dean Cross, Brad Darkson, Matthew Harris, James Howard, Hayley Millar Baker, Jazz Money, Cassie Sullivan, this mob, and Mandy Quadrio.

Through a range of multidisciplinary frameworks including video, installation, poetry, projection, sculpture and sound, each of the artists respond to concepts expressed by the word, Yalingwa – a Woi Wurrung word which means light, time, vision, or shining a light on the times.

The exhibition embraces the visible and invisible energy fields and flows that these ideas set in motion,” said Curator Jessica Clark. “Each of the artists explore and experiment with the cyclic and sensory rhythms between light and sound, thinking and feeling, time and vision, with relation to the body, materiality, place and space, revealing an interconnected web of shapeshifting ecologies within, beyond and between what can be seen.”

“By engaging processes of remembering, rehabilitation, regeneration and reclamation, the artists’ weave conversations, experiences, and memories to map connections and disconnections with one another, the self, and the world, and highlight the importance of knowledge sharing, holding and deep listening and extends beyond the surface of things,” said Jessica.

Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos said the Victorian Government was proud to support the exhibition as part of its work to develop and promote First Peoples leadership and careers in the creative industries.

“By supporting major exhibitions, curatorial positions and Fellowships, the Yalingwa initiative is helping to build the profile of First Peoples art and artists across the state,” he said.

“The free Between Waves exhibition will showcase paintings, poetry, sound art, video art, sculpture and much more. It will be another must-see exhibition that will open up our perspectives on what First Peoples art is and can be,” said Minister Dimopoulos.

ACCA Artistic Director/CEO Max Delany said ACCA was pleased to present the third Yalingwa exhibition at ACCA and to continue to build on the success of previous exhibitions. “Between Waves follows Hannah Presley’s exhibition A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness presented at ACCA in 2018, and Stacie Piper’s WILAM BIIK, presented at TarraWarra in 2021,” he said.

“Both exhibitions had significant impact on a number of levels, and each played a vital role in supporting and elevating the practices of the commissioned artists, and in the creation of important new bodies of work that continue to circulate in galleries and exhibitions nationally – and internationally. We are very excited to continue to present this important series,” said Mr Delany.

Projects featured in Between Waves include:

Maree Clarke is a Yorta Yorta, Wamba Wamba, Mutti Mutti and Boonwurrung woman and established multidisciplinary contemporary artist and a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices. For Between Waves, Maree will present a new photographic series and projection work that navigates intersections and interconnections between art, culture and science in relation to place. Informed by recent practice-based research in collaboration with The University of Melbourne Histology Platform, this new body of work will explore the internal and external worlds of Phragmites australis (otherwise known as river reeds) – their patterns, structures, and the elemental activity occurring at a cellular level.

Matthew Harris was born in Wangaratta in 1991 and is of mixed European and Koorie descent. His practice often debases dominant hierarchies through socially critical and conceptual painting and sculpture. Matthew’s commission for Between Waves includes a dramatic suite of seven large-scale ochre paintings that reflect the size and scale of museum archival shelving. Harris formally references notions of minimalism and seriality to draw attention to the relentless and repetitious efforts of museums and collecting institutions to contain First Peoples material culture, and their history of gate-keeping that continues to deny Aboriginal ancestors return to Country.

Jazz Money is a Wiradjuri poet and artist whose creative and cultural practice encompasses installation, performance, film, and text-based works. For Between Waves Jazz will combine the twin strands of their practice, poetry and film, to present an immersive three-channel video work in the form of an evolving poem with infinite possibilities. Drawn from Money’s personal archive of collected and recorded images, this ambitious new commission recalibrates the many ‘lost lines’ or phrases from previous creative writing projects.

Cassie Sullivan is a palawa woman with a responsive, intimate, and experimental contemporary art practice that crosses disciplines of moving image, photography, writing, sound, installation, and printmaking. For Between Waves, she will create a new series of large-scale monoprints that reflect the relations of textiles and Country. The works are presented on clouded Perspex reminiscent of the mist that amasses and disperses across Country in lutruwita (Tasmania) and will be generate a maze of ancestral imprinting for the viewer to navigate.

Brad Darkson is a Narungga man, and contemporary artist working across various media including carving, sound, sculpture, and painting, and multimedia installations that engage and experiment with a range of technologies. Brad’s new commission will recreate a three-dimensional model of a local fish trap using photogrammetry software and interactive animation. Informed by community consultation with the artists’ local Kaurna community members, Brad’s animated multi-projection installation dispels the ongoing hunter-gatherer myth in regards to First Nations art and cultural practice, specifically in relation to sophisticated traditional aquaculture technologies. In doing so, Brad foregrounds the work that continues within community to rehabilitate these important cultural sites.

Hayley Millar Baker is a Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung woman whose contemporary art practice centres painting, photography, collage and film in the development and abstraction of autobiographical narratives and themes relating to her identity and beyond. For Between Waves Hayley will present a major new screen-based video work that channels the in-between internal moments of restrained rage turned to grief rippling through the body and permeating all levels of self. Through size, scale, and silence, Hayley’s new commission simultaneously embraces notions of intimacy and intensity to convey the monumental focus, determination and power of women, their strength and resilience, with the film teetering between moments of action and recognition and the anticipation of reaction or external rupture.

James Howard is a Jaadwa song-man and composer who will create a long-form, generative sound sculpture that explores the intersecting realms of material and immaterial experience – drawing attention to the way that sound can elicit emotion, despite not having a physical form itself. Derived from a range of field recordings gathered in and around ACCA, James’ asynchronously layered sonic response will draw attention to the often-unnoticed sites or structures of the everyday that are hidden in plain sight. By amplifying the sounds of such spaces, James draws attention to the way that First Nations culture is deeply embedded in our landscape yet overlooked by so many people.

Mandy Quadrio is a Trawlwoolway and Laremairemener Tasmanian Aboriginal artist working with sculpture and installation. Her contemporary art practice encompasses sculpture, installation, photography, and mixed media, working to unfix racist categorisations, historic denials, and imposed invisibiliy. For Between Waves, Mandy is creating a multi-piece sculptural installation that responds to buried Australian colonial histories that have dominated her Tasmanian Aboriginal people since invasion and colonisation. Asserting her adaptability, strength, and long-time relationships to being, Mandy’s new commission will generate an immersive shadow-world that gently emerges, unfolds, and metamorphoses into the gallery.

Dean Cross was born and raised on Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country and a Worimi man through his paternal bloodline. He is a paratactical artist interested in collisions of materials, ideas and histories. His commission for Between Waves reflects on life stages, shifts, and changes, and the waves of memory and meaning that influence our encounter with each other and the world. By resurfacing and recontextualizing these things, Cross creates a sculptural self-portrait that prompts contemplation on life, learning, love, and loss, and the ways in which we ascribe memory and meaning to objects, materials, and things. In doing so, Dean’s work asks; are we the sum of all our experiences? Or are we somehow something more?

In addition, Naarm-based Indigenous-arts collective this mob will produce an ambitious new digital commission for ACCA’s new Digital Wing. Taking the form of a digital zine that centres notions of interactivity and connection, this mob will highlight the breadth of their individual and collaborative contemporary art practices by featuring a range of new photography, poetic texts, recorded yarns, mini feature films, interviews, recipes, gardening tips, crossword puzzles.

This new digital commission has produced by this mob’s core members: Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri and Wiradjuri artist Moorina Bonini, Taungurung curator, artist and writer Kate ten Burren, Lardil and Yangkaal writer and curator Maya Hodge, Luritja artist, curator and writer Jenna Rain Warwick, and Gulumerridjin, Wardaman and KarraJarri Saltwater artist and graphic designer Jenna Lee, and will be accessible within the exhibition space, and through ACCA’s new Digital Wing.

Jessica Clark is a proud palawa/pallawah woman and an independent curator living and working on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm. Currently Yalingwa Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Jessica has been working in various independent and collaborative curatorial roles since 2017 and is a current PhD candidate at the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne.

Recently, Jessica worked as part of the curatorial team for the national touring exhibition Experimenta Life Forms: International Triennial of Media Art (2021–2023), and in 2019-2020 worked with Country Arts SA, within a First Nations-led creative team, to develop and curate the exhibition VIETNAM: ONE IN, ALL IN, in response to the cultural and political sensitives inherent in the honoring and acknowledgement of the service and lived experience of South Australian Aboriginal Vietnam Veterans.

Jessica is an alumni of: International Curators ProgramAsia Pacific Triennial x TarraWarra Biennial (2021–2023), PIAD First Nations Colloquium, South Africa (2019), Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Cultural Keepers Program (2017–2021), Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program at the National Gallery of Australia (2018), and the First Nations Curators Program at the Venice Biennale (2017).

Previous independent curatorial projects include breathing space (2021) at Margaret Lawrence Gallery, In and of this place (2021) at Benalla Art Gallery [online], All of us (2018) at Blindside Gallery, and TELL: Contemporary Indigenous Photography (2017–2018) for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

Yalingwa is a Victorian Government Visual Arts Initiative developed in partnership between ACCA, Creative Victoria, and TarraWarra Museum of Art. The program is overseen by the Yalingwa Directions Circle, chaired by Aunty Joy Wandin AO, and includes First Peoples Elders and cultural, curatorial, and community leaders.

Announced in 2017, the initiative comprises new curatorial positions, major exhibitions alternating between ACCA and TarraWarra, and one year Artist Fellowships of $60,000 for senior South East Australian First Nations artists. The first exhibition in the series was A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness curated by Hannah Presley at ACCA in 2018 and was followed by WILAM BIIK 2021 at TarraWarra Museum of Art, curated by Stacie Piper.

Between Waves
Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts (ACCA), 111 Sturt Street, Southbank
Exhibition: 1 July – 3 September, 2023
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Cassie Sullivan, Mayana Trawna | Body Country, 2021. Video installation. Courtesy of the artist – photo by Cassie Sullivan