Throughout her career Maree Clarke has developed a deep and contemplative, multidisciplinary practice that continually reclaims and celebrates Aboriginal customary ritual, language and art. Ritual and Ceremony (2012) is comprised of 84 portraits of named Aboriginal men and women from Victoria. These portraits are displayed throughout the show, on blackened-out walls of the gallery, acting like a spine that connects people with culture.
Clarke uses this series to speak frankly about the physical presence of Aboriginal people in the southeast, naming individuals as an antidote to the absence of Aboriginal makers names within historical collections. Clarke challenges visitors to consider the legacy of erasure that has been perpetuated within these walls. She uses white ochre painted on the face and hair of thirty-eight women, and on the eyes and t-shirts of forty-six men to represent widows’ caps and ceremonial body paint, as well as scarification markings in order to honour all that has been lost.