The works of Dennis Thorpe, John Winch, Steve Verde, and Terry Atkinson will be on show in the Reclamation exhibition from January 11-24 at the Footscray Community Art Centre, as part of Wominjeka 2014, a festival of contemporary Indigenous arts and culture.

Each of the artists shares their own stories of dislocation and of reclamation, the reclamation of cultural knowledge and of their place as Aboriginal men within contemporary Victorian society. They explore identity, the continuing tradition of storytelling and the importance of cultural connection.

Through The Torch’s Reclamation project Maree Clarke mentored the four emerging artists over a six-month period. Maree’s working life as an artist has seen her develop as a pivotal figure in the revitalization of South-Eastern art practices. She supported the artists to extend and develop their creative practice through experimentation with digital mediums.

“Sharing our stories through art is time honoured and today provides a forum for a deeper understanding of Indigenous experiences within the broader community,” said Kent Morris, Statewide Indigenous Arts Officer with the Torch. “Who better to tell these stories than those whose experiences add to and shed further light upon the complex history of this country and the nature of contemporary life for Indigenous Australians.”

Dennis Thorpe is a Murri Wurri / Kunja man who was born in Bourke and spent most of his life in Mildura. For the Reclamation exhibition he is creating five panels, each representing a decade of his life in relation to Australian history. Thorpe utilises cultural signifiers in his work titled Culturization, “I want to connect with the viewer through shared history and challenge them to think about where they were during significant times in Aboriginal history,” says Thorpe.

John Winch, a Mutthi Mutthi man from Lake Mungo is creating a visual timeline of his journey titled The Garden of Eden. He explores connection to country from a contemporary, transient position. “We always carry our connection to our traditional lands with us, while at the same creating new connections and it is our spiritualty as Indigenous people that holds it all together,” says Winch.

For Steve Verde, his work as an artist has been heavily affected by his involvement in Victoria’s Prison system. He began painting in prison and soon after joined the Torch’s Statewide Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community Pilot program. Steve’s work as an artist has inspired him to move forward and start afresh. His work Hidden History takes inspiration from the ocean and rivers of Victoria, while also expressing Steve’s continuing journey of tracing his ancestry in Tasmania.

Terry Atkinson finds spiritual strength through quandongs, honey and handcrafting traditional implements. Through digital imaging he is creating unique works that combine time-honoured cultural connections with contemporary technology.

Reclamation is run by The Torch and supported through an Arts Victoria Community Partnerships grant.

Reclamation will be launched on January 11 at the Footscray Community Arts Centre and run until January 24 as part of Wominjeka 2014, a festival of contemporary Indigenous arts and culture.

Enquiries: Kent Morris, Statewide Indigenous Arts Officer, The Torch
Mobile: 0421 942 402