Virginia Keft, pinampi Country thigga (Remember my Country) II, 2023, raffia, found Eucalyptus wood, wire, 60 x 79 x 20 cm
Waalarrinji (long-time-now) is an exhibition about identity, Culture, and Country. It is about knowledges given, knowledges stolen and knowledges reclaimed.
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum was both difficult and traumatic. The outcome poses new obstacles to notions of ‘reconciliation’. Muruwari artist, Dr Virginia Keft, unpacks the complexities of navigating this landscape of ‘NO’ while proclaiming the strength of Aboriginal cultures, our stories, our truths and our voices.
Drawing inspiration from the suburban and the domestic, Dr Keft overwrites our assumed knowledge of what these familiar objects and places are and what they mean. The exhibition is rich with tangible expressions of connection to Culture through honest and confronting statements on Dr Keft’s contemporary Aboriginal experience that are woven in and out of stories about Country, place, Truth and healing. Weaving practice is a deeply personal expression of Dr Keft’s connection to Culture, place and belonging. The Flying Fox is a symbol of kinship and deep spiritual connection to Country. The woven bats were created using ancient techniques passed down from Elders to the artist on the banks of the Barwon River in Brewarrina. This place holds great spiritual significance for Muruwari Peoples and is the birthplace of the artist’s grandmother, Aunty Mary Shearer.
Threads of knowledges are stitched into the works both symbolically and physically; a patchwork that connects places and people. Snippets of language and stories threaded together across time, connecting past, present and future. Knowledges that were, that are, that will be. Knowledges that are both private and cultural at the same time. Bending and weaving the lines of raffia, the sculptural forms create a tactile and immersive experience that envelopes the audience in experiences of Country and invites connection.