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.
The Stony Rises Project
Nets Victoria – The Stony Rises Project