My People, Culture and Country

smoking ceremony and performance at Benalla Art Gallery
Guests attend a smoking ceremony and performance at Benalla Art Gallery as part of the My People, Culture and Country exhibition.
Image: Dylan Kelly
Source: Museum Victoria

My People, Culture and Country is a powerful exhibition showcasing Koorie youth from north-east Victoria who explore their culture, connection to land and community though photographs, personal objects and stories. My People, Culture and Country celebrates and honours the continuation of the living and vibrant Aboriginal culture of Victoria.

My People, Culture and Country is an outcome of Museum Victoria’s Indigenous Pathways project, which is designed to support Indigenous students as they connect with their cultural heritage. The exhibition, which was created by seven students from the Victorian towns of Shepparton, Mansfield and Benalla, explores themes of people, place and culture through objects, artworks, photographs and documents drawn from Museum Victoria’s collections and their personal objects.

The students also had the opportunity to view Victorian Aboriginal heritage objects stored in Museum Victoria’s collection. Through this process and with the assistance of Melbourne Museum staff they chose heritage objects such as clubs, boomerangs and necklaces to which that they felt a connection to accompany their exhibition. For the students they are a present reminder of their cultural connection to the past, and the students' artwork and objects will continue the connection into the future.

Through the project the students experienced working at the Museum, spending time behind the scenes with staff from various departments and Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. As they explored the collection the students discovered more about their cultural heritage and it gave them the opportunity to reflect on what means to them as an Aboriginal person within their community. As one student explored the collections, she found photographs of relatives she had never seen before.

The students also created artworks and learned traditional practices such as weaving and making spears in workshops facilitated by Museum Victoria and Victorian Aboriginal artists. “By creating this exhibition, the students have made their own connections between the past and the present and in the process developed a deeper appreciation of who they are and where they have come from”, says Caroline Martin, Manager, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

These powerful experiences and the skills that the students have gained through the projects development are reflected in the exhibition, giving it a powerful resonance and enabling all visitors to connect with My People, Culture and Country.

Students/artists:

George Atkinson
Minjarra Atkinson
Mikaela Cottingham
Chanoa Cooper
Blade Larkins
Caroline McKenzie
Sylvia Warrener