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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: koorie (2)

Indigenous Pathways placement

Author
by Mitch Mahoney
Publish date
18 November 2013
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Comments (9)

MV's Indigenous Pathways program provides Indigenous students with the opportunity to experience life behind the scenes at Melbourne Museum. Recently Mitch Mahoney, a year 10 student from Linuwel School in East Maitland, NSW, spent a week at the museum as part of the program. Mitch impressed everyone with his enthusiasm, inquisitive nature and eagerness to learn. Most of all he impressed us with his possum skin cloak.

My name is Mitch Mahoney. I am Barkindji on my father’s side and Boonwurrung and Yorta Yorta on my mother’s.

My week at Melbourne Museum was amazing. It was fantastic to learn about all the different jobs in the museum and how the different departments of work join together to run such a wonderful place. I was shown around various areas, but my favourites were the Indigenous collections. John Duggan showed me traditional tools, weapons, shields and stone tips. Kimberley Moulton gave me a tour of the First Peoples exhibition pointing out many things that I found interesting, and explaining the huge amount of work that has gone into this exhibition. It tells an amazing story of Aboriginal people. During my time at the museum I was also given the opportunity to show my possum skin cloak that I made for my year ten major work.

Detail of possum skin cloak Detail of the painted and burnt designs of Mitch's possum skin cloak
Image: Tiffany Garvie
Source: Museum Victoria/Mitch Mahoney

I am passionate about my art, the art of my people – Boonwurrung, Yorta Yorta and Barkindji people. As a young child I would always draw Aboriginal style animals and landscapes, but as I grew up I stopped. It was rare that I would draw in Aboriginal style until year ten when I had to decide what to make for my end of year major works. I decided to make a traditional possum skin cloak that would tell a story of my life and my family.  

The cloak is made of 35 possum skins stitched together with a waxy string and on the pelt side I burnt on patterns and drawings of animals.

People looking at possum skin cloak Mitch explaining the symbols on his cloak to his family, including artist Maree Clark, and museum staff.
Image: Tiffany Garvie
Source: Museum Victoria

One of the pieces on my cloak is a sun. The sun is, in my eyes, the greatest power that sustains life. It’s a symbol of hope for me as every day the sun will rise and every night it will set, but you can always be sure it will rise again. In saying that, I do believe that Aboriginal people have risen and over time they did set, but you can be sure that, like the sun they will and are starting to rise again. We are strong people and now we are being recognised for what we are. In making my cloak I am showing people that I am a strong Aboriginal and I am proud of my heritage. I do believe that all Aboriginal people should be proud and strong and show the world who they are and who their people are.

People looking at possum skin cloak Mitch showing his possum skin cloak to museum staff during his visit.
Image: Tiffany Garvie
Source: Museum Victoria / Mitch Mahoney
 

Hand prints of family members are pressed onto the cloak using ochre and wattle sap mixed to make a paint-like substance. Everyone has something personally significant on the skin.

Detail of possum skin cloak Detail of Mitch's cloak showing the owl, a symbol significant to his mother.
Image: Tiffany Garvie
Source: Museum Victoria / Mitch Mahoney
 

Like my mother's owl. The owl is a warning bird, warning of details overlooked in life. The owl sees all. She knows all and she helps remind you to be aware of your surroundings and the people in your life. She reminds you to pay attention to what you do and think of the consequences of your actions. Like a mother, she helps you; she teaches you to think before you act and to know when you have done wrong and to accept the consequences of your actions.

With the making of my possum skin cloak I realise that I have been missing out on the magic of this creative process. Now that I'm starting to become involved with the art again, I have come up with enough ideas on what I would like to make to last me the next few years. I was hoping to make a living in the arts, be involved with my people and bring Aboriginal art to new places in a new way. There are so many mediums to work with inside the “boundaries” of Aboriginal art.

I think that my possum skin cloak is only the beginning of my journey into making Aboriginal art. I thank my family and the people at Melbourne Museum for helping me to see that and I hope that my life will involve my art in a big way.

NAIDOC Week 2012

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
2 July 2012
Comments
Comments (4)

Each year, NAIDOC Week celebrates the stories, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The theme for this year is they dared to challenge, in tribute to the people who established and protected the Aboriginal Tent Embassy over the past forty years.

People at smoking ceremony People gathered at this morning's smoking ceremony in Milarri Garden. In the foreground are Patrick Greene and Genevieve Grieves.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The start of NAIDOC Week (1-8 July 2012) was marked this morning at Melbourne Museum by a smoking ceremony, with Genevieve Grieves and Mandy Jones raising the Aboriginal flag. Says Bunjilaka Manager Caroline Martin, "Each year we raise a new Aboriginal flag in the Milarri Garden and hold a smoking ceremony; this signifies for us a new year, a symbolic gesture of renewal, honouring the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities both past and present."

  People watching flag-raising Genevieve and Mandy raising the Aboriginal flag.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

At the event, CEO Patrick Greene launched the Koorie Guide to Melbourne Museum, a hot-off-the-press, free guidebook to Aboriginal stories embedded within all the galleries of the museum.

Koorie Guide to Melbourne Museum The cover of the new Koorie Guide to Melbourne Museum.
Source: Museum Victoria

Caroline explains that the guide was produced "in response to complaints when we closed the permanent exhibition." The main gallery of Bunjilaka closed earlier this year to allow construction of the new permanent exhibition, First Peoples, that will open in mid-2013. "People were disappointed that they'd come to the museum for an Aboriginal experience, and in their eyes there was no Aboriginal content, which isn't true. Over the last few years, any time a new exhibition was developed, we've talked to the curators to include Aboriginal content."

The Koorie Guide highlights the stories and culture of the traditional owners of Victoria that are embedded in Melbourne Museum's exhibitions. In Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world, visitors are greeted at the entrance by the eagle Bunjil, while in The Melbourne Story, there is a single raven, the only bird in the display that isn't labelled with its scientific name. This is Waa, a sacred figure from Koorie creation stories. "Bunjil is creator of the land, waterways and people and Waa is the protector of all," explains Caroline.

Another purpose of the guide is to show another view of the museum's displays. In the western districts of Victoria, an area near Portland is remembered for the 1829 battle between whalers and Gunditjmara people over the ownership of a beached whale. The Koorie Guide links the popular Blue Whale skeleton exhibit with these Convincing Grounds, so-called because of the terrible violence used by whalers to 'convince' the local people of their right to the whale.

Caroline Martin Bunjilaka Manager Caroline Martin speaking at the NAIDOC Week event this morning.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Caroline worked with colleagues John Patten, Liz Suda and Museum Victoria's Design Studio to compile the Koorie Guide to Melbourne Museum, and she encourages visitors to request a copy of the guide from the cloakroom desk. Come in to Bunjilaka to enjoy the special NAIDOC Week events at Melbourne Museum, too.

Performance in Bunjilaka Accomplished didgeridoo player and Wemba Wemba man Ron Murray performing in Bunjilaka today, as part of NAIDOC Week visitor activities.
Image: John Patten
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

NAIDOC Week official website

MV News: NAIDOC Week 2010

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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