Local artists awarded Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre Koorie commission

MV_TranscendenceVictorian-based artists Steaphan Paton and Megan Cope have been awarded the prestigious Koorie Artwork Commission for the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum.

Their installation Transcendence will enliven the Bunjilaka entrance with a unique interactive artistic landscape which will further enrich visitor’s engagement with Victorian Koorie culture. Mr Paton and Ms Cope said with their winning concept they wanted to emphasise the cultural significance of the Birrarung (the Yarra River) to the Koorie community and a continued connection to the land through story and knowledge.

“Transcendence is about being in the space between Land and Sky. It is a cultural landscape that needs people to activate it. It is a place to learn, contemplate or tell stories,” said Mr Paton. “The installation asks audiences to engage with the work by sitting on two large shield shaped volcanoes and lava sculptures at ground level. A Birrarung formed by 157 translucent gum leaves is suspended above, displaying the transition from saltwater to freshwater.”

Ms Caroline Martin, Manager Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, said the Commission attracted a strong response from artists which made the final decision difficult for Museum Victoria selection panel members.

“This significant Koorie Artwork Commission is part of the Museum’s commitment to encourage the development of ambitious new work that further enhances the compelling experiences offered at Bunjilaka,” Ms Martin said. “Transcendence demonstrates a significant connection with the Koorie community and provides a strong and distinctive sense of the Koorie culture that is still very much alive today.”

Ms Martin said fabrication for the artwork would start soon, with installation planned for the end of this year. “The newly energised Bunjilaka entrance will complement the award-winning First Peoples exhibition beautifully and we look forward to sharing it with visitors later this year.”

Ms Cope said the artists were excited to be working together on the Koorie Artwork Commission. “It was important for us as young Aboriginal people to consider the many cultural and geographical connections from across Victoria to create a further artistic contribution to the Bunjilaka experience through this major initiative,” said Ms Cope.

Image: An artistic representation of Steaphan Paton and Megan Cope’s Transcendence (supplied)