MAMA's contemporary Australian art collection includes a growing proportion of works by prominent Indigenous artists. In recent years we have focused on building the Indigenous Collection as an important cultural resource for the community.
The Indigenous Collection began in 1989 with the commissioned series Something More by Tracy Moffatt. While Moffatt resists being catergorised as an Aboriginal artist, her exploration of hybrid cultures is drawn from personal experience. She combines influences from popular culture with her Indigenous heritage to construct images that reflect on stereotypes and racial inequality.
In the mid 1990s the gallery purchased Leah King-Smith's Time on Earth series, which uses the universal, cross-cultural symbol of the circle as a signifier of the life cycle. A layering of images reflects complex inter-connections and the transitional processes of nature.
In 2009 the gallery acquired 40 works from Belinda Mason's Intimate Encounters series, which comments on taboo social issues of grief, body image, identity and family. Mason is a Sydney-based photographer who was the 2008 winner of the most prestigious photography prize in Australia, the Moran Prize.
Treahna Hamm is another prominent Indigenous artist represented in our collection. A member of the Yorta Yorta tribe, she is a possum skin cloak maker, printmaker, sculptor, weaver and painter with strong connections to the environment. Working with the local community and helping to reclaim the art practices of her people is important to Hamm.
'As a Yorta Yorta artist I focus on the reclamation, revitalisation and regeneration of South East Australian art (Yorta Yorta in particular) and that of the stories connecting me to my culture and heritage.'
A recent acquisition is the work of local artist Lorraine Connelly-Northey, whose innovative objects and installations relate to the history and culture of the Wiradjuri people and her personal connection to the land. She uses Aboriginal coil weaving techniques to transform found materials including corrugated iron, fencing wire, feathers and shells into traditional forms such as koolimans (bush bowls) and narbongs (string bags).
Works by Marlene and Ellen Plunkett acquired from the exhibition The Journey Forward are another unique representation of local Indigenous artwork.
While not Indigenous herself, photographer Sarah Rhodes draws inspiration from and focuses on Indigenous communities. She has a particular interest in possum skin cloaks.
AlburyCity commissioned a portrait of local Indigenous elder Nancy Rooke and artist Treahna Hamm to add to the series Home / On Country which was exhibited in early 2013 at the LibraryMuseum.
MAMA continues to grow its collection through grants, commissions and workshops with Indigenous artists from the local area and beyond.