Creative Resilience stands 4.6 metres tall and depicts a First Nations woman’s arm holding a woven basket, a powerful pose celebrating and commemorating First Nations women artists and craftspeople.
The work symbolises the strength and creativity of First Nations women of South Eastern Australia who have supported and nurtured families and communities through culture over tens of thousands of years.
The artwork was created by six members of Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini, a collective of First Peoples women and non-binary artists from across Victoria. Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini means Mother Aunty Sister Daughter and the six artists behind Creative Resilience are Annie Brigdale, Lorraine Brigdale, Janet Bromley, Trina Dalton-Oogjes, Georgia MacGuire and Glenda Nicholls, with support from a cultural reference group led by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di Kerr.
The arm lifting the basket is a gesture of celebration - the proud end moment of a basket weaver’s creative process. The woven basket holds important meaning in First Nations cultural practice, with each of the artists having traditional and modern weaving in their background and artistic practice.
The basket was initially made of Victorian grasses with a few rows woven by each of the six artists. It began as a 10cm high model which was scaled up to size in Cemlite, a lightweight concrete-based material, coated in copper.
The arm was created from a forearm cast of one of the artists and built to size in Cemlite. It stands tall at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre and features a QR code that links to audio stories from the artists.
Artist Janet Bromley says the focus of the Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini collective has always been on “honouring all of our women, because all of our women have struggled. We acknowledge really strongly the women who came before us, who made us what we are. We hope (with this work) we are giving to women who come along after this.”
Creative Resilience is part of the Victorian Government’s $1 million Victorian Women in Public Art Program, which aims to address the historic underrepresentation of women as both artists and artworks, and is the third of six artworks to be unveiled. Before this program began only 10 of the 581 statues across Melbourne depicted real-life women.
The program lifts the visibility of women’s achievements and places them on the public record as well as celebrates and supports women artists, the arts and creative sectors more broadly.
The artworks are statues, sculptures and installations that tell stories of women’s experiences and achievements. Remembering Stella Young was launched in Stawell in March and Vera: Linton War Surgeon in Linton in April.