The Arts

Local governments are a prominent supporter of arts and culture and can play an important role in fostering Aboriginal arts.

Local government plays a diverse role in promoting and supporting arts and culture, such as through commissioning art, operating public arts facilities and programs, supporting festivals, events and a broad range of community projects.

Promoting and supporting Aboriginal arts can create positive economic, social and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal people.  Further, it can build recognition, appreciation and harmony within the wider community.

The 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey found that councils support Aboriginal arts and culture in a variety of ways. Key activities were identified as:

  1. Documenting and promoting local Aboriginal history
  2. Holding or sponsoring Aboriginal events
  3. Supporting Aboriginal arts and culture
  4. Using Aboriginal language to name local features or council rooms and buildings.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Indicators

Spirit of the Land, a sculpture at J.W. Hurst Reserve in Oakleigh by Megan Cadd, Maree Clarke and Vicki Cousens, commisioned by the City of Monash

Spirit of the Land, a sculpture at J.W. Hurst Reserve in Oakleigh by Megan Cadd, Maree Clarke and Vicki Cousens, commisioned by the City of Monash

Last Updated: April 12, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Case Study

In 2010, Monash City Council engaged a team of three Indigenous artists – Megan Cadd, Maree Clarke and Vicki Couzens in collaboration with Artery Co-operative – to design and deliver the Spirit of the Land public art installation at Hurst Reserve, Oakleigh. The realisation of the concept required a collaborative partnership between Council and the artists. The site was carefully shaped to reflect the proposal: ‘Symbolically and visually the berms rise up from the landscape and appear almost skeletal, the bones of the earth or from the air. The site resembles a bird’s wing.’ It is a visually striking artwork to celebrate Aboriginal culture, at a significant and prominent location.

With support from Arts Victoria, the Design Research Institute at RMIT University developed The Stony Rises Project. The project resulted in an exhibition of new works that brought together ten contemporary artists, curators and designers in an investigation of the rich, layered histories of the Western District of Victoria. The work was exhibited at RMIT Gallery in Melbourne in 2010, and afterwards toured through a number of local government supported regional art galleries (Art Gallery of Ballarat, Horsham Regional Art Gallery, Warrnambool Art Gallery, and Latrobe Regional Gallery through the National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Victoria.

The Stony Rises Project, developed over two years, offered an opportunity for artists to re-interpret the area, drawing on the local Aboriginal perspective. The Western District has, since the 1830s, occupied a prominent place in the histories of white settlement, a landscape of grand homesteads, vast acreages separated by dry stone walls – an evocation of the lands early migrants had left behind. With its rich Aboriginal history it remains a contested landscape that artists both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal responded to.[1]

Useful Links

The Stony Rises Project

Nets Victoria – The Stony Rises Project

Exhibition catalogue

[1] The Stony Rises Project: An RMIT University and NETS Victoria Touring Exhibition’Nets Victoria – The Stony Rises Project
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