Culture Makers Season One brings vibrant new voices to all three Museums Victoria sites

A wave of creative young Melbourne talent will soon break at Museums Victoria, introducing a chorus of vibrant new voices as part of Museum Victoria’s inaugural Culture Makers program, running from 21 April to November 2023.

No Thoughts Just Be Hot. Source: Olana Janfa

Presented in partnership with the Scanlon Foundation, Culture Makers aims to advance participation, diversity and belonging, with seven creatives chosen for Season One to share their inspired art and programming across Immigration Museum, Scienceworks and Melbourne Museum.  

“We are delighted to see the first season of Culture Makers come to fruition,” said Museums Victoria CEO & director Lynley Crosswell.  

“These seven highly talented creatives bring such diverse, dynamic works and programming to Museums Victoria, I urge audiences to come out and dive into the storytelling and conversations to be had.

Kicking off the program is a new exhibition by Melbourne-based rising star, Ethiopian-Norwegian artist Olana Janfa. Presented at the Immigration Museum from 21 April- 20 August, Janfa’s exhibition What is your Gov’ment Name will reflect on the artist’s migrant experience across a series of works that showcase his trademark colour, humour and engaging social commentary.

A self-taught artist who speaks five languages, Addis Ababa-born Janfa has overcome multiple barriers on his journey ­– emigrating from Ethiopia to Norway as a teenager, then settling in Melbourne in 2015. A prolific painter whose practise now extends to book illustration, fashion collaborations and large-scale mural projects, Janfa typically works with acrylic, oil and pastels on a mix of recycled timber and found materials. He first picked up a brush in 2018, initially to recreate the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox church art he remembered from his childhood, and has since gone on to exhibit his works widely and partner with local and international brands and organisations including Nike, Pan Macmillan, Obus, Nicholas Daley, NGV, Melbourne Fashion Week and The Social Studio. He also regularly teaches art to school children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“Art has connected me strongly with my culture and given me a way to communicate my ideas and experiences without worrying about having perfect English,” says Janfa. “I love the resourceful imperfection of broken English and I celebrate it.”

He continues: “I am interested in how the ‘migrant’ label dictates people’s experiences, opportunities and social status; how it defines their place within the world. I enjoy using art and humour to open up these kinds of conversations.”

Six other Culture Makers chosen by an independent Creative Advisory Panel for Season One will deliver experiences across all three museum sites, offering a unique opportunity for creatives to work with a Museums Victoria producer to deliver programming, and enabling Museums Victoria to expand their engagement with artists.

Kenyan-born, Melbourne based artist/model Maleik Njoroge established the All Tribes Are Beautiful Lab - an experimental space which creates chess products and curates unique chess experiences. Njoroge will be instigating chess simulations at Immigration Museum Friday 26 May and Saturday 27 May, encouraging active reflection on chess, art, and community to take place during and after play.

“The beauty of the game lies not only in its design and function, but what it offers the community,” says Njoroge. “The game brings a universal language, governed by a logic that can only be appreciated and understood in practice.”

WALA Drum and Dance Ensemble from Ghana, West Africa, will present a cultural workshop of call and response songs, drumming, dance and introduction to some of their fascinating instruments, stories, dances and cultural history on Friday 9 & Saturday 10 June at the Immigration Museum.

Also at Immigration Museum, RMIT game designer Michelle Chen will be driving programming which invites international students to create an online universe and their own Melbourne ‘skin’ through learning the craft of digital gaming on Thursday 29 & Friday 30 June.

In November at a Melbourne Museum Saturday Session, Maori visual and vocal storyteller Irihipeti Waretini will curate a dynamic live experience of traditional and contemporary Maori performance art, immersing participants in the pride, power and solidarity of haka.

At Scienceworks, site responsive artist and curator Autumn Tansey will create a Planetarium Full Dome Experience - a live harp performance and meditative experience which encourages discussion about our natural environment on Saturday June 17 & Thursday June 22.

Culture Makers is a new initiative, guided by an independent Creative Advisory Panel, in which Museums Victoria invites creative ‘Culture Makers’ to create experiences and programs that engage and connect public audiences with our museums and spaces. Applications are open for Season Two until midnight, Sunday April 30 at Culture Makers EOI - Museums Victoria

What is your Gov’ment Name is free with Immigration Museum entry from 21 April.

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Media and Communications Team
Museums Victoria
[email protected]
0466 622 621

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