Installation view of Lisa Waup’s work <em>The hidden intersection</em> 2023 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.    Image: Tom Ross

Lisa Waup

Lisa Waup
(Gunditjmara/Torres Strait Islander, b. 1971, Melbourne, Victoria. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Artist and curator Lisa Waup is a mixed-cultural First Nations woman. Often drawing upon personal experiences, her multidisciplinary practice spans jewellery, experimental printmaking, photography, sculpture, textiles, fashion and weaving. Waup uses symbols, text and materials that connect her to family, Country and history, weaving stories from past, present and future into contemporary forms.

For Melbourne Now, Waup presents a new neckpiece and earrings, The hidden intersection, 2023. The work is a continuation of her ongoing series, Our Way, which re-imagines the ubiquitous road sign. Using various media, the series explores the power and peril of directional markers, a colonial imposition that the artist says can control, repress and disorientate First Nations people on their own land. These works reference the generations of Australian First Nations people who have been stolen, hidden and displaced since colonisation.

‘The reinvented sign directs the viewer back to where ancestors can be found, implying that First Nations people never were and never will be lost due to their cultural connection to the land’, Waup explains. Created from custom-made, reflective aluminium traffic signs, The hidden intersection imbues the object with new meanings. By altering the messaging of existing signage, Waup turns a symbol of oppression and restriction into a powerful statement of reclamation and sovereignty.

Waup recently completed a Master of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, where she is a lecturer in the drawing and printmaking department. She is currently a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary (2022–24). Her award-winning work has been widely exhibited and has appeared at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Fremantle Arts Centre, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Trust of Victoria, Craft Victoria, the NGV and Singapore’s ReDot Fine Art Gallery. Waup has been a finalist in multiple Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (2018, 2017, 2016) and in the Craft Awards (2017), and has completed commissions for the Koorie Heritage Trust and global law firm DLA Piper. Her ongoing collaboration with fashion designer Ingrid Verner, Lisa Waup X Verner, debuted at Melbourne Fashion Week in 2017. Her work has been acquired by the NGV, the Mornington Peninsula Shire and numerous councils and collections both nationally and internationally.