Creative Crossroads at ‘My Country’

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Country Road + NGV First Nations Commissions

26 March 2024

In a groundbreaking collaboration between the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and Country Road, the Country Road + NGV First Nations Commissions advance the recognition and platforming of emerging Australian First Nations artists and designers. This national, biennial mentorship and exhibition program, now open at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia until 4 August, unites eight emerging First Nations artists with renowned industry mentors across the eight Australian states and territories.

Initiated by the NGV and supported by Country Road, this partnership celebrates the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and the storytelling inherent within First Nations communities. Each mentor, chosen for their expertise and standing within the art and design sectors, nominates an artist to guide through the creation of ambitious new works. These works, spanning disciplines from weaving and textiles to installation and painting, respond to the poignant theme of ‘My Country’ and coincide with Country Road’s milestone 50th anniversary.

The commission series acknowledges the creative relationships between artists and their mentors. It amplifies First Nations art and design in Australia, ensuring that these narratives and knowledge systems are celebrated and preserved for future generations. The inclusion of these commissioned works in the NGV Collection enhances the Gallery’s significant holdings of Australian First Nations art and design, establishing a vital legacy.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director of NGV, highlighted the uniqueness of the mentorship format, which offers emerging artists a career-defining opportunity to work under the guidance of an established mentor. ‘We’re grateful for the support of Country Road for this important new initiative. This mentorship program has enabled NGV to cultivate important new relationships with First Nations practitioners across the country. With the eight works entering the NGV Collection, this commission will enhance our ability to represent and profile our rich and diverse Indigenous communities,’ said Ellwood.

Elle Roseby, Managing Director of Country Road, shared her enthusiasm for the program’s potential to support First Nations communities through a partnership that elevates First Nations artists and their stories, nurturing greater recognition of their cultures, histories, and knowledge.

The Country Road + NGV First Nations Commissions represent a significant step forward in supporting the diverse contributions of First Nations artists and designers. By funding the creation and acquisition of these works and providing a national exhibition platform, the NGV and Country Road demonstrate their dedication to championing First Nations creativity, ensuring that these voices are heard and celebrated.