Maree Clarke's three oversized necklaces in this exhibition are made from black and natural river reed, and white and brown feathers from native Australian birds. These traditional body adornments are supersized, looped and suspended from the ceiling.
Maree’s work is part of a process of regenerating cultural practices, strengthening culture, identity and knowledge. These traditional body adornments are authentically reproduced but are supersized to reflect the scale of the loss of knowledge of cultural practices.
"My practice is revivifying research. It starts with the research I do and then I turn that research into art, telling stories through art in a contemporary way.
"All my adornments, whether it’s a river reed necklace or a breast plate or mourning cap adornments, tell very different stories about identity with south-eastern Australian cultural practices."
Maree Clarke, a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung woman from Mildura in northwest Victoria, is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working in Melbourne.
Maree is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of south-east Australian Aboriginal art practices, reviving elements of Aboriginal culture that were lost over the period of colonisation. Maree’s continuing desire to affirm and reconnect with her cultural heritage has seen her revification of the traditional possum skin cloaks, together with the production of contemporary designs of kangaroo teeth necklaces, and string headbands adorned with kangaroo teeth and echidna quills.
Maree’s multi-media installations of photography, painting and sculpture further explore the rituals and ceremonies of her ancestors.
Her work is held in the collections of the following institutions: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Museum Victoria, Melbourne; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Monash University Art Collection - Prato Campus, Tuscany, Italy; Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne; Stonington Council, Melbourne; Port Phillip Council Art Collection, Melbourne and Mildura Art Centre Collection, Mildura.
Image: Maree Clarke, River reed necklace, 2014, River reed, galah feathers, waxed thread, 50,000 mm (long). Courtesy of the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery.