A JOINT work by Port Fairy artist Jenny McCarthy and the late Framlingham artist Debbie Clarke is among those from south-west artists in the new First Peoples permanent exhibition that opened at the Melbourne Museum this month.
The work is titled Our Mothers’ Country and tells the very different stories of the mothers of McCarthy and Clarke, both of whom grew up in the Illowa area, and the cultural gulf between them.
McCarthy, an art teacher at Port Fairy Consolidated School, said her mother came from an Irish Catholic background and knew very little about local Aborigines and their culture apart from getting rabbits from them.
Clarke’s work tells the story of how she was taken from her mother and raised by a foster family.
McCarthy said the artwork showed how many in the white community had very little knowledge of what was happening in the Aboriginal community around them.
She said Clarke had invited her to join her in creating the work for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards 10 years ago.
The work had been a finalist for the awards and was bought by the Melbourne Museum.
McCarthy, who was one of the few white artists to have work in the permanent exhibition, said she was honoured to be included.
The First Peoples exhibition was curated by the Yulendj (knowledge) group of elders and tells the story of Aboriginal people from the time of creation to today.
It is being held in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton.
Other south-west indigenous artists whose work feature in the exhibition include Vicki Couzens, who has her well-known cloak made of possum on skins display.
The exhibition also includes audio-visual presentations on Aboriginal identities including Archie Roach and Ivan Couzens from the south-west.