ADC's Laura Wesolowski recently asked First Nations Coordinator Miah Madden a few questions about her involvement in the National Indigenous Art Fair and Vessels: Transcending Tradition, now on in Gallery 2.

What’s your involvement with the National Indigenous Art Fair and the Australian Design Centre?

I’m the curator at the National Indigenous Art Fair’s Living Room space, which is a curated display room of Indigenous art, textiles and furniture. I’m also the First Nations Programs Coordinator at the Australian Design Centre, coordinating Vessels: Transcending Tradition, which is now exhibiting.

How did you search and select the Art Centres you wanted to be involved in Vessels: Transcending Tradition?

We have over 30 Art Centres involved with the NIAF, so I began my search there. I looked through all their works online looking for pieces that differed from the kind of work on display at the Fair. I was mainly interested in sculptural forms, and a handful of Art Centres’ work really caught my eye – Barkly Regional Arts, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Injalak Arts, Bula’bula Arts, and Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association. It was also important each series of works complimented each other in the space, with a variety of materials, mediums and subject matter.

Barkly Regional Arts, 2024. Photo: COTA.

Can you tell us a little bit aboutVessels: Transcending Tradition?

This exhibition celebrates Indigenous Art Centres mainly based in the N.T region of Australia. It may seem like a small area but the diversity between each region, each community, is visible throughout the exhibition, from Barkly Regional Arts’ Bush Handbags showcasing the native flora and fauna local to the Barkly region to Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association’s bird carvings embody mythologies of Tiwi people.

Any favourite pieces in the exhibition?

I really love the bird carvings from Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association. After looking through pages and pages of Indigenous art online, this collection of birds appeared, and I was in awe. They’ve been shipped all the way from the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, and arrived in only two days too!

Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association, 2024. Photo: Amy Piddington.

What have you enjoyed about working with the National Indigenous Art Fair and the Australian Design Centre?

As a proud Bundjalung woman I’ve enjoyed working so closely with grassroots communities, regional Art Centres and mob. Using my eye for design in curating spaces both at the NIAF and the ADC has also been an immense honour.

I really admire how the Australian Design Centre has taken an opportunity to spotlight these Indigenous Art Centres, in bridging the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous art representation. The ADC won’t be taking a commission for sale of works in Vessels: Transcending Tradition, which means 100% of these sales go straight back to supporting these Indigenous Art Centres and communities.