RISING festival may be over, but there’s still some wonderful art pieces to discover after sunset. One of them is a massive digital projection of a Spirit Eel, looping its away around the façade of Hamer Hall. Created by First Nations interdisciplinary artist Maree Clarke, and emerging artist Mitch Mahoney, this is the second time that the Spirit Eel has journeyed around Hamer Hall. This artwork, Ancestral Memory, was originally commissioned for RISING, and premiered in June last year during lockdown. Now, more Victorians will be able to see it, when the eel lights up the night sky, from July 1 to 31.
This piece follows the journey of the short-finned eel as it crosses land, river and sea, taking on many forms on its path to maturity. For the peoples of the Kulin Nation, the eel is a protector spirit, food source, seasonal marker and timekeeper. The Spirit Eel metaphor paints a story of resilience and adaptation, and connects time and place.
“All of my practice is about the revitalisation and celebration of South-Eastern Aboriginal culture,” said Mahoney, a Boon Wurrung/Barkindji artist. “I try to create works that are designed to spark interest and educate people. Where I can, I like to create works that are collaborative and bring the public into an art space to learn and be involved in the art making process.”
The digital project honours the custodianship of the land for First Nations communities, and gives greater visibility to their cultural heritage. Gaze at this visual spectacle every night in July, from sunset to midnight.
“Both Mitch and I are super excited that so many people are going to see it this time around,” said Clarke, a pivotal Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta/Boon Wurrung/Wamba Wamba artist. “Especially for young ones to see work on this scale that you can dream as big as you can dream, and it can end up somewhere like Hamer Hall.”
Ancestral Memory is completely free to attend.