Connecting the dots at the NGV

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The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square is now home to Wurrdha Marra, a new dynamic and ever-changing exhibition space dedicated to displaying masterpieces and new works from the NGV’s First Nations art and design collection.

26 October 2023

Wurrdha Marra means ‘Many Mobs’ in the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung language and is the name newly bestowed upon this gallery space by the Wurundjeri Council.

Traversing the ground floor and foyer of The Ian Potter Centre, Wurrdha Marra includes a number of new and never-before-shown works across a vast array of media. Wurrdha Marra celebrates the diversity of First Nations art and design through a series of visual dialogues and juxtapositions from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities around the Country.

From meticulous hand-woven fish traps by Burrara women to the evocative resin boomerangs by Keemon Williams, every piece tells a tale. These narratives weave through different media, be it through the profound statement of Tony Albert’s ‘History Repeats’ or the delicate ochre patterns in Michelle Pulutuwayu Woody Minnipinni’s ‘Ngiya Murrakupupuni (My Country)’. Such works not only spotlight the sheer talent of the artists but also invite visitors to embark on an introspective journey.

The showcased art is as much about individual expression as it is about collective memory and cultural preservation. Gwenneth Blitner’s ‘Mijal’, for instance, provides a vivid depiction of her childhood adventures along the Roper River, while Guruwuy Murrinyina’s bark painting, ‘Dhatam’, captures the spiritual essence of ancestral serpents through intricate ochre designs.

However, it is not only traditional forms that capture the spirit of this exhibit. Modern moving image works like Amrita Hepi’s ‘Scripture for a smoke screen: Episode 1 – dolphin house’ challenge prevailing norms and pose introspective questions, underlining the multifaceted nature of First Nations art.

Wurrdha Marra coincides with a complete rehang of the permanent collection on levels two and three of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, bringing together both Australian and First Nations art in a fully integrated manner for the very first time. Following a chronology that includes historical and contemporary First Nations art and design in every gallery, this display offers a journey through pivotal moments in Australian art history, from 65,000 years of First Peoples practices through to the present day.

For more information, visit https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/whats-on/.

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