Celebrate First Nations Artists At This Underground Gallery On Flinders Lane

Nicole de Souza Nicole de Souza - Staff Writer

Celebrate First Nations Artists At This Underground Gallery On Flinders Lane

It’s the perfect rainy day activity for NAIDOC week

On Flinders Lane, at non-for-profit gallery fortyfivedownstairs, you’ll find an art exhibition celebrating the work of First Nations artists. Enjoy a diverse range of art from 29 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, including sculptures, digital media, weaving and more. See this free exhibition July 6 to 29. It’s open Tuesdays to Fridays, 11am to 5pm, and Saturdays, 11am to 3pm.

King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary First Nations Art Award

This exhibition celebrates the work of First Nations artists from around Australia, including remote, regional and urban areas. The exhibition was based on a biennial competition known as the KWM Contemporary First Nations Art Award. This competition took place online last year because of COVID, and the work will finally be on display. See the art of 29 finalists, including four from Victoria, at this exhibition.

According to Berkeley Cox, the Chief Executive Partner of KWM, the Art Award was created as a way to “strive for meaningful reconciliation” with the First Peoples of Australia. As well as a form of empowerment, this exhibition is a way to “appreciate the rich culture and stories” of the artists. This exhibition also provides a way for us to “learn from and celebrate” the voices and experiences of the artists.

Supplied: Ngiya Murrakupupuni by Michelle Woody

The winner of the First Nations art award was Michelle Woody, a Tiwi culture woman and artist whose work has been featured in Australia and overseas. Her winning piece, Ngiya Murrakupupuni, uses natural ochres that are collected, crushed and burned into white, yellow and red, the traditional colours of the island landscape.


Among the Victorian finalists, Maree Clarke is a familiar name. You may recognise her from the digital eel that weaved its way around Hamer Hall earlier this year. Her work, A Moment in Time – Connection to Country, represents her connection to country, culture and place. It’s a necklace based on talismans given to people passing through Country as a sign of safe passage and friendship. Clarke has supersized the necklace to symbolise the large scale of the loss of knowledge and cultural practices.

To see the exhibition, visit fortyfivedownstairs at 45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000.

For more art, try: The NGV’s Winter Masterpieces Exhibition Is Bringing More Than 100 French Impressionist Artworks To Melbourne


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