Installation view of Lorraine Brigdale’s work <em>Gulpa Ngawalln</em> 2022 (front) 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

Lorraine Brigdale

Lorraine Brigdale
(Yorta Yorta, b. 1955, Korumburra, Victoria. Lives and works in Bendigo, Victoria)

Lorraine Brigdale is a proud Yorta Yorta woman and award-winning artist living on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. Throughout her career, Brigdale has developed a process of working with hand-prepared ochre and mineral watercolours to explore an ever-growing knowledge around her Aboriginal family and heritage.

Standing at one metre tall, Gulpa Ngawalln, 2022, is a vessel inspired by the ceremony burial poles of central Arnhem Land. Continuing Brigdale’s practice of combining weaving work with ochre, Gulpa Ngawalln is made of predominantly hand-sourced and prepared materials.

Brigdale’s practice is guided by her urge to develop contemporary forms using traditional materials, with her weaving work centring on coil basketry, a traditional South-Eastern Aboriginal weaving style. The large size of this new vessel influenced the materials Brigdale selected. She used New Zealand flax for a strong core and rafia as the coiling material, while foraged Central Victorian yellow ochre made into paint was used to apply colour.

‘Having my hands in ochre, many thousands of years in the making, connects me directly to my Ancestors. I learn its language and how it behaves in contemporary explorations of an age-old medium’, says the artist. ‘As a proud Yorta Yorta woman I have dedicated this piece to my Aunty Dot Peters AM (1930–2019), who was a master weaver and taught the craft to all who were interested.’

Brigdale has exhibited her work in many settings, including Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne (2021); Dudley House, Bendigo (2021, 2019, 2018); Central Goldfields Art Gallery (2021); and the Koorie Heritage Trust (2020, 2019). In 2020, she was the recipient of the Viva Energy Australia 3D Award at the Koorie Art Show for her work Yenbena Munalibic, an interpretation of burial poles and an homage to the resilience and strength of Aboriginal peoples.