New exhibition More Than a Tarrang (tree): Memory, Material and Cultural Agency renews the connectedness of rare ancestral belongings

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum

Brian Matin, detail from work in progress, Baw-li tharra burriin Kamilaroi 6, 2023, mixed media Image courtesy of the artist.

Named after the Boon Wurrung word for tree, More Than a Tarrang (tree): Memory, Material and Cultural Agency shares the significance of trees in south-eastern First Peoples cultures and the continued practices of mark making and design.

A collaboration between Museums Victoria and Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab at Monash University, this new exhibition coming to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum shows that by connecting to the memory, material practice and cultural agency of First Peoples and their cultural belongings, we can understand how trees are so much more than an object.

 “With much of the early First Peoples collections, the Country where they are from, the maker, their story and cultural narratives were unrecorded by collectors and speaks to the early colonial practice of dislocating cultural belongings from people and their systems of knowledge,” said Museums Victoria First Peoples Senior Curator Kimberley Moulton.

“In museums without community access, collections are often registered as ‘unknown’ maker or only known in the state-based context; their story is that of the collector or institution, ignoring the ongoing connection they have to living communities.”

Bringing together rare Ancestral belongings and artworks from Museums Victoria Collections with new artworks from senior and emerging artists made for this exhibition, and research with First Peoples Knowledge holders, this exhibition reflects and honours relational ways of being with trees and is a catalyst for regenerating knowledge of Country. The research for this exhibition is part of a four-year Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative led by Professors Brian Martin and Brook Andrew.

More Than a Tarrang (tree): Memory, Material and Cultural Agency is a collaborative project co-curated by Kimberley Moulton, (Yorta Yorta), Senior Curator First Peoples Collections Museums Victoria, Dr Jessica Neath, Professor and Brian Martin (Bundjalung, Muruwari and Kamilaroi), Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous research lab, Monash Art Design and Architecture and Professor Brook Andrew (Wiradjuri, Ngunnawal), University of Melbourne.

The exhibition includes new artworks by Brian Martin, Brook Andrew, Moorina Bonini, Maya Hodge, Brad Webb, Uncle Greg Griffiths, Uncle Alfred Priestley, N'Arweet Carolyn Briggs, Simon Rose and Deep Design Lab.

"This exhibition presents a number of culturally modified trees created by our Ancestors that reference a complex matrix of relations to Country, community and culture. We continue to articulate this relationality through contemporary creative practice with new forms of mark making and patterning across a range of media including drawing, photography, installation, sound, the digital sphere and beyond. This exhibition invites deep thinking about the significance of trees. They are reminders that knowledge is alive in Country - knowledge that can inform us, who and how we are," said Professor Brian Martin, Director of Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous Research Lab, Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, Monash University.

More Than a Tarrang (tree): Memory, Material and Cultural Agency will be on display at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum from Saturday 24 June. Tickets to the exhibition will be included with Melbourne Museum general entry. More information available via  

Developed by Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous Research Lab at Monash University and Museums Victoria. Additional funding provided by the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture at Monash University, City of Melbourne Arts Grants, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative

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Media and Communications Team
Museums Victoria
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0466 622 621

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