Maree Clarke was born in Swan Hill in 1961. She grew up in North-west Victoria, mainly Mildura, and now she lives in Melbourne. She is connected to the traditional lands of the Mutti Mutti, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta and Boonwurrung peoples. Her exhibition, Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories, is on display at The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in the city of Melbourne or Naarm, which is built on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and the Wurundjeri. It is the first ever NGV solo exhibition by a living artist and a woman with ancestral ties to Naarm.
Clarke creates art in many different media including photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewellery, video, glass, and more. She is passionate about reclaiming and sharing south-eastern Aboriginal art making practices; spending much of her life studying, practising and teaching these traditions. In addition to her use of new media, she uses traditional materials and techniques, including kangaroo teeth, river reed, echidna quills and possum skin.
The exhibition also includes historical material from Museums Victoria which highlight Clarke’s deep engagement with, and reverence for, the customary ceremonies, rituals, objects and language of her ancestors.
- What do you think an exhibition called Ancestral Memories might be about?
- Why do you think it is important to learn about and practise traditional art making? What traditions or practices in your own family or culture would like to pass down and why?
- What type of artworks might Maree Clarke create using kangaroo teeth or possum skins?
- Who are the traditional custodians of the land on which the NGV is built? Why might this exhibition have special significance?
- Maree Clarke often uses museum collections to research and understand south-eastern Aboriginal traditions. Have you ever been to the Melbourne Museum (or any other museum)? What type of objects and artefacts were on display there? How did they help you understand tradition and culture?