Inaugural exhibition opens tomorrow at new First Nations arts gallery Djaa Djuwima

A dedicated and permanent First Nations arts gallery officially opens tomorrow, Friday November 25, in Bendigo with its inaugural exhibition celebrating Country.

Mayor Andrea Metcalf said the dedicated gallery Djaa Djuwima, located in the Bendigo Visitor Centre, signified an important cultural step towards reconciliation.

“Djaa Djuwima means to ‘show, share Country’ in Dja Dja Wurrung language and this gallery is a safe place for First Nations artists to explore cultural expression, identity, heritage and connection.

“Our commitment to reconciliation is paramount and I am so proud that Greater Bendigo is now home to a permanent and dedicated First Nations gallery managed by the City of Greater Bendigo,” Cr Metcalf said.

“Djaa Djuwima will be a prominent platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, customs and stories.

“It will enrich our region’s cultural experiences and create better understanding, recognition and respect for the living culture of First Nations peoples.

“I am very excited to announce the inaugural exhibition, Gurangarr Dja Dja Wurrung Djayi, will open tomorrow with 22 creatives and makers showcasing incredible works.

“The exhibition name means you are on/in Dja Dja Wurrung Country and all of the exhibitors have provided unique interpretations on how they connect with Country.

“This is an exciting opportunity to see Aboriginal artworks not seen anywhere else with each creative bringing their own unique style using traditional and contemporary methods.

“There will be plenty of colour and movement and all of the artists tell their own story and the inspiration behind the range of beautiful works on display in the exhibition including weaving, artworks and woodwork.

“A priority action in the Greater Creative Bendigo Strategy was to address the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and their culture in Greater Bendigo.

“The opening of Djaa Djuwima is also aligned with significant actions in the Council Plan (Mir wimbul) 2021-2025, Barpangu, Reconciliation Plan.

“As well as three curated exhibitions presented each year, Djaa Djuwima will also encourage new creative opportunities, new networks and professional development and that’s an important step for First Nations creatives who are seeking to build their businesses.”

The City’s Bendigo Venues & Events Arts Officer First Nations Janet Bromley is Djaa Djuwima’s Curator. The gallery’s creative development has been supported by Wartaka, an advisory group that aims to promote and nurture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and creativity in the community.

Wartaka member Aunty Lyn Warren warmly welcomed the new gallery and what it meant for First Nations artists.

“I am so delighted to see a dedicated First Nations gallery open in Greater Bendigo as it is something we have wanted for a long time to achieve reconciliation,” Aunty Lyn said.

“Djaa Djuwima will showcase First Nations culture, art and storytelling and reinforce the significant contributions we can bring to the broader community.”

The new gallery is located at the Bendigo Visitor Centre on Pall Mall. The first exhibition is on show every day from Friday November 25 until Tuesday February 28, 2023 (except Christmas Day).

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