Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country exhibition arrives at Geelong’s National Wool Museum, celebrating the art of Deanne Gilson

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 Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country exhibition arrives at Geelong’s National Wool Museum, celebrating the art of Deanne Gilson

Dr Deanne Gilson with contemporary ceremonial cloaks, National Wool Museum

Experience Wadawurrung Dja (Country) through the art of proud Wadawurrung woman, emerging elder, cultural educator, and award-winning visual artist Dr Deanne Gilson.

Arriving just ahead of Naidoc Week in July, the National Wool Museum is celebrating new life through Deanne Gilson’s exhibition Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country – on display from Thursday 24 June – Sunday 13 November 2022.

Gilson is a proud Wadawurrung woman, emerging elder, cultural educator and award-winning visual artist from Ballarat Victoria, with her works primarily being in clay, painting, digital imagery and fabric design.

This very special exhibition features 20 original paintings and textile works that reflect Dr Gilson’s love for Dja (Country), her connection to place, and her family’s knowledge and connection to cultural heritage.

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Gilson captures the changes throughout the six Wadawurrung seasons by painting her Dja (Country), people, plants and animals. Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country is a celebration of new life as each season brings about subtle changes of birds nesting in the cool season, flowers blooming with life and the deep cultural knowledge embedded within the trees.

National Wool Museum Director Padraic Fisher said the exhibition forms part of City’s commitment to building strong relationships and partnerships with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Greater Geelong.

“The Museum commissioned Dr Gilson to create six original paintings and 10 contemporary ceremonial cloaks exclusively for this exhibition,” Mr Fisher said.

Dr Gilson represents the colours of Wadawurrung country in her art practice, particularly white ochre she collects while walking on country.

“The colours of country are highly personal and reclaim my culture that was missing from my early life. Each colour links to the act of ceremony, in particular the use of white ochre,” Dr Gilson said.

“Using elements of country within my art practice is really positive because you’re walking on country, you’re gathering, you’re sourcing your materials and you’re connecting to them as you’re sourcing them. It’s a deeper level of art for me because I’m on my traditional country – my ancestral lands.”

The 10 ceremonial cloaks in the exhibition represent the spirits of ancestral matriarchs and the importance of ceremony to Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

Creative Communities and Culture Portfolio, Trent Sullivan said the City is committed to telling the stories of Greater Geelong, including our region’s 60,000-year history.

“I want to thank Dr Gilson for creating 16 works specifically for this exhibition. It’s a very meaningful exhibition and we’re proud that people will have the opportunity to engage with the works and learn more about Wadawurrung culture,” the Deputy Mayor said.

Wadawurrung Dja: Awakening Country – The Art of Deanne Gilson runs from 24 June – 13 November 2022 at National Wool Museum, 26 Moorabool Street Geelong. Admission is just $10 for adults, $8 concession and $6 for children and tickets include access to all galleries. 

Find out more here