Aunty Marlene and Deanne Gilson

Two women smiling Aunty Marlene and Deanne Gilson researching Victorian Aboriginal collections at Melbourne Museum.
Image: Kimberley Moulton
Source: Museum Victoria

The past, the present and the continuation of cultural knowledge are woven through Wadawurrung: Past, Present, Future. This exhibition by Wadawurrung Mother and Daughter, Aunty Marlene and Deanne Gilson, opens at Birrarung Gallery on 5 December 2014. 

Living on country in Ballarat, their diverse art practices are intrinsically linked to their Wadawurrung culture and the stories that have been passed down to them. Central to their work are themes of the goldfields, early settlement of Ballarat and their cultural links to the Kulin Nation of Melbourne. Their work explores this recent past through a Wadawurrung perspective, inviting you to look beyond the thin veneer of colonial settlement histories to the connections, creation stories and land of their people.

Aunty Marlene Gilson

Aunty Marlene’s work embodies narrative that has been handed down by her Ancestors for thousands of years. Many layers of detail are presented with pride and loving memory in the scenes of daily life and stories of the Wadawurrung people. Her works visually depict times of ceremony and cultural practice to that of colonisation and the change that dramatically affected her country and people. The incredible detail of Aunty Marlene’s work evokes a sense of nostalgia whilst visually reviving her Ancestral memories and history to these places. Aunty Marlene positions Koorie stories within the context of these pre and post colonial times which are often absent in the understanding of Australian history.

Deanne Gilson

Dynamically different in style, Deanne’s practice draws its inspiration from ‘Ancestral marks’ and design on cultural objects found in museum archives and family oral histories. Deanne’s practice seeks to interrogate the colonial legacy of settlement and the western hegemonic systems of class, race and representation in historical photographs that were imposed on her Ancestors. Her work also explores the matriarchal role through her feminist perspectives, looking at the history of marriage and the oppressive function it has played within her family.

Through challenging these histories and incorporating her research on museum archives in her practice, Deanne seeks to de-construct the colonial legacy and re-establish and continue her Wadawurrung heritage to pass on to her children. Deanne’s son Maximillian and niece and nephew Indigo and Rhyder also share a space within this exhibition creating artwork based on the stories and histories as told to them by their Grandmother. Through this exhibition Deanne and Aunty Marlene Gilson acknowledge, remember and maintain culture, giving voice to their Ancestors, carrying them into the future.

Image Gallery