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Celebrating our artistic Indigenous community at Maroondah Federation Estate

Published on 04 July 2022
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Aunty-Irene-Norman-Uncle-Jack-Charles-Acrylic-on-Canvas-cropped-for-website.jpg Aunty Irene Norman, Uncle Jack Charles, Acrylic on Canvas

Inspiring poems penned during COVID-19 lockdowns have been compiled into one exhibition now on display within the foyer of Maroondah Federation Estate

Poetry on Saturdays is a collection of poems by Aunty Irene Norman, a proud Wailwan woman and local Elder from Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place (MMIGP).

With social distancing restrictions amplifying feelings of loneliness and isolation, Aunty Irene wrote and performed poetry each week, inspiring her community online with words of encouragement, wisdom and humour.

“In April 2020, I started to read poetry on Saturdays, utilising social media. The Saturday poetry reading was designed to keep up the spirits of both the Indigenous and broader community,” Aunty Irene said.

“This project of reading poetry on Facebook started as a hope. A hope of lifting people’s spirits through face-to-face readings on relevant subjects from a community Elder and friend.

“I had extremely wonderful, positive feedback and reactions to the weekly readings. They served their purpose, soothing folks going through an awful situation. By having contact, and hearing from an Elder, it seemed to calm people and lift them,” she said.

As one of eight Maroondah Arts and Resilience Award recipients for her poetry readings in 2021, Aunty Irene received curatorial support to exhibit her poetry at Maroondah Federation Estate.

The special one-off awards were established by Council to acknowledge the important role the arts and creativity played in our community during the pandemic. The award recipients were offered prizes including exhibition and rehearsal spaces and an artist in residency program.

The Maroondah Arts and Resilience Awards were open to Maroondah-based artists, creatives and groups across all art forms who demonstrated innovative approaches and made outstanding contributions to the community during difficult times.

Maroondah Federation Estate is open 9am-5pm weekdays at 32 Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood.

Exhibition dates

Date: Monday 27 June to Friday 2 September
Location: Maroondah Federation Estate foyer
Cost: Free

The Artistic Magnitude of Mullum Mullum

Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Places’ (MMIGP) latest exhibition showcases the work of multi-talented artists within the local Indigenous community, now on display until 2 September at Maroondah Federation Estate Gallery.

The exhibition presents art down through the ages, from Indigenous ancestors to modern times. Soft weaving used for gathering and serving food and furs used for warmth, to tools used for daily life and weapons used for hunting are shared alongside photography and Indigenous items produced using contemporary methods.

Included is Aunty Irene’s portrait of prominent Aboriginal elder and 2015 Victorian Senior of the Year, Uncle Jack Charles, simply titled ‘Uncle Jack’.

Read more about the exhibition

Exhibition launch

The community is invited along to celebrate the opening of The Artistic Magnitude of Mullum Mullum on Thursday 7 July from 6pm to 8pm.

The opening launch will take place during NAIDOC Week (3-10 July) and will include a Smoking Ceremony, singing from Yeng Gali and a poetry reading by Aunty Irene Norman.

Date: Thursday 7 July 2022
Time: 6-8pm
Location: Maroondah Federation Estate Gallery, 32 Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood.
Cost: Free
Booking: RSVP online or phone 9298 4553

About Aunty Irene Norman

Aunty Irene has a passion for cultural expression through art and is also recognised for her traditional Aboriginal weavings and paintings that celebrate culture and which are inspired by her life and connection to country.

Aunty Irene’s weaving skills were passed down to her from her paternal grandmother as a child in regional New South Wales. Her weavings are created from both traditional and contemporary materials that celebrate culture, as well as the day-to-day epiphanies that come from visual and emotional life experiences.

She teaches traditional weaving to community members and in schools and for the past nine years has held exhibitions of her weavings and other art at the Koorie Heritage Trust, as well as at the 69 Smith Street Gallery, Fitzroy, Realm and at Maroondah Federation Estate Gallery in Ringwood.

Aunty Irene is a founding member of Yeng Gali Mullum Singers (previously the Mullum Mullum Choir) and writes some of the songs the group performs. She is also a Cultural Educator and works with KESOs (Koorie Education Officers) teaching both pupils and teachers in Australian history, culture and traditions within primary and secondary schools.

She also serves as a member of several Community Service Committees for the improvement of services to the Aboriginal community.

Strong Sistas, a mural featuring Aunty Irene’s portrait alongside four local Aboriginal women, has been described by Vogue Australia as “one of 32 pieces of street art to see before you die”. The mural by local artist 23rd Key and commissioned as part of the Maroondah Council Public and Street Art Eastland Urban Art Project is believed to be one of the largest stencil murals in Australia, located outside Eastland shopping centre in Ringwood.

Further details

For more details on exhibitions at Maroondah Federation Estate visit our exhibitions page, email or phone 9298 4553. 

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