LEVEL 3, GALLERY 26
AUSTRALIA, BORN 1960
LIVES AND WORKS IN LAUNCESTON
Reflection 2020 presents a group of nine kelp sculptures that pay homage to the nine traditional (pre-invasion) nations of Tasmania and are Vicki West’s contemporary re-interpretation of traditional vessels. In these works, she uses her wealth of acquired knowledge to reflect the traditional, material and customary practices of her ancestral family in north eastern Tasmania: the Trawlwoolway people.
West creates her sculptures with the intention that they speak to old and new perceptions of the cultural devastation caused by British Invasion upon the original inhabitants of lutrawita – or Tasmania as it’s now known. West breathes new life into the humblest of customary organic materials and honours the cultural knowledge of women in her community. Her works explore and celebrate cultural survival in the face of continuing colonial myths of her people’s extinction by asserting ‘we are still here’.
Vicki West is a descendant of the Trawlwoolway people of north-eastern Tasmania. She was first introduced to the tradition of Tasmanian Aboriginal basket weaving and working with kelp through a cultural workshop in the early 1990s. Since that time West has become the premier Australian practitioner of kelp. She creates sculptural installations that reflect the impact of British invasion, oppressive government policies and the denial of native title on Tasmanian Aboriginal people. In 2005 West held her first solo show, A Nasty Piece of Work, at Arts Alive Artspace, Launceston. Recent exhibitions include String Theory at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney (2013) and Defying Empire: The Third National Indigenous Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra (2017).
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Supporters Nicholas Allen & Helen Nicolay and donors to the 2020 NGV Annual Appeal for their support.