Contemporary First Nations Artists in a Colonial Setting

Aboriginal artists are a national treasure, but many of us may not be aware of their contributions to contemporary Australian art.

For an increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is regarded as one of the top tier art venues throughout Metropolitan Melbourne. Notably, it is a venue that contributes to breaking down one of the key barriers that often confronts First Nations artists - recognition as contemporary artists.

The (unfortunate) reality is that for many Australians, works created by Aboriginal artists are expected to conform to preconceived notions of Aboriginal art. Even online search engines seem to have a difficult time differentiating between traditional and contemporary First Nations art and artists.

According to City of Darebin Art and Collection Coordinator Leah Crossman: “The work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists is as dynamic as it is diverse. First Nations artists are continually moving forward into new territory and it is an honour to have the opportunity to exhibit the work of these leading contemporary artists”.

Clear demonstration of that artistic diversity was on display when, following three months of structural renovation to the heritage-listed venue, Bundoora Homestead opened again to the public in July 2022 with the exhibition “Mapping the Curious Heart”. The exhibition, which features works from eight First Nations women, embraces diverse art practices, including moving image, photography, glass and painting - a far cry from those preconceived notions held by so many.

“One of the key objectives we have at the Homestead is to create a safe, accessible and welcoming space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists,” Ms Crossman said. “Regardless of the medium used, artistic style and cultural backdrop, our goal is to provide a space for discussion around Australia as a colonised nation with an Aboriginal past, present and future.”

For out more about the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.

Uncle Charles Pakana is a proud Aboriginal journalist working with Darebin Council to tell First Nations stories.