Feeling the Country

Feeling the Country artwork featuring black background and warm toned curved aboriginal patterns

The City of Hobart has recently installed a new contemporary artwork in the Elizabeth Mall to deepen awareness of Aboriginal culture in Hobart.

The Elizabeth Mall is an important gateway to the city and the artwork acknowledges the cultural and historic significance of the site for Tasmanian Aboriginal and the Mouheneener people.

This is the first in a number of initiatives to address the importance of Aboriginal cultural presence and representation within Hobart’s urban environment. It embodies the City’s commitment to working with Aboriginal people so that visitors and locals can connect, learn, share and deepen their awareness of Aboriginal culture and Tasmanian history.

Created by Michelle Maynard, the artwork is inspired by history and the natural environment and covers a number of walls of the Elizabeth Mall Information Hub. Michelle’s innovative multimedia practice bridges the old and the new to create vibrant and sophisticated imagery that touches on universal questions of place, connectivity and belonging.

About the artist

Michelle Maynard is a contemporary indigenous Tasmanian designer, cultural practitioner and facilitator of community connective  and ceremonial experiences.  She is a passionate and creative advocate for her people and country, working from the core of her family’s multigenerational experience of the Cape Barren Island Reserve. 

Michelle focuses on the personal and community healing potential within art and cultural practice and facilitates opportunities for all people to connect with country to cultivate deeper listening, deeper healing and deeper belonging to place.  

As a Producer and Mentor with the Nayri Niara Centre and Good Spirit Festival Michelle creates opportunities for people to engage in art, design and cultural practice, reconnecting and maintaining lineages of personal and communal storytelling. 

Trained in Fashion Design and Project Management, Michelle is equally passionate about developing her own sustainable fashion range as she is collaborating with other practitioners on contemporary sustainable design projects. Recently this has included working with Liminal Architecture, Terrapin Puppet Theatre Company and the City of Hobart on separate projects.  

Michelle is currently undertaking her apprenticeship as a Certified Practitioner in Grof Transpersonal Training.  This framework adds to Michelle’s interpersonal skills and provides tools that Michelle is able to integrate into all aspects of her personal, community and professional output.

Michelle Maynard about her work

“Feeling the Country invites us to converse with the ancient knowledge system of Country, to listen, to ask and to feel welcomed.”

“The colour palette is inspired by country and the beautiful vibrant marine-life colour that lies beneath the surface of the river. The richness of colour is also a deep symbolisation of the vibrancy of the Mouheneneer people, their culture, their country and their relationship to country.

“The palette intends to infuse colour into the space. The rich, warm predominantly analogous palette with complimentary accents aims to evoke a sense of fun and curiosity into the contemporary space.”

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Artist’s statement

We live in one of the most connected times on earth but never before have we been so lonely, so alienated from each other, from ourselves, and from the natural world.  Whether this manifests as having difficulty finding community, feeling anxiety about your worthiness and place in the world, or simply feeling disconnected, the absence of belonging is the great silent wound of our times.

Toko-pa Turner, “Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home” (© 2017)

 

What is it to belong?  What is it to really feel belonging?  What is it to be and feel welcomed?  Are the two connected?

The Mouheneneer people were the traditional owners of this country, Hobart, from thousands of years ago, up until a time, recent, exact date unknown.  The impact of colonisation on their population was devastating.

This artwork celebrates and acknowledges the Mouheneneer people and their country.  The beauty and vibrancy of a culture, of people in an ancient relationship with their land, sustaining each other, thriving together in families, in community, belonging.

Country is an ancient knowledge system, holding the memory of everything that has gone before.   It continues to generously hold us as we create new story, new memory. 

Can we be open to the idea of asking country itself, ‘may we be welcome’.

Can we celebrate and acknowledge the people who came before us in order to repair our own relationship with country, with ourselves, with each other.  Feel our own belonging.

Can we feel country’s response?

Are we open to hearing the reply?

 

Image gallery

Photos: Andrew Wilson Photography.

 

Feeling the Country - fabrication

     

Video production: David Pyefinch / Film Maker, Madfinch Pty. Ltd.