Victor Harbor is celebrating First Nations art and culture with the permanent installation of an Indigenous gallery at the Coral Street Art Space.
Mia Stocks, the Arts and Cultural Facilitator on the Victor Harbor council, said the space is the first of its kind in the region, showcasing the works of local Ramindjeri and Ngarrindjeri artists, including that of cousins Amanda Westley and Cedric Varcoe.
“There are other wonderful galleries who host temporary exhibitions, but our region has previously lacked a permanent space,” Stocks said.
The exhibition space which goes by the Ngarrindjeri approved name: Tumbi Tjil-urmi Yiti, was endorsed by the Victor Harbor Council in March, with significant work underway since then to get the exhibit up and running.
“The City of Victor Harbor is committed to celebrating local First Nations culture, and this is one of many ways we are showing this,” Stocks said.
“The concept of a permanent installation was also brought about during initial community consultation for the art space.”
The gallery provides room for Indigenous community members to exhibit individual work, run weaving and painting workshops, and collectively offer a connection to language and story.
Pulgi (traditional home), is another activity space in the exhibit that allows children to sit and listen to language and practice writing in kinetic sand.
“We want the space to be welcoming – a place where locals and visitors can connect to culture, language and story any time of the year,” Stocks said.
Victor Harbor also celebrates its First Nations by hosting several events during NAIDOC Week and the annual Sacred Whales, Indigenous Wellness and Ancient Wisdom Festival.
Last year, Varcoe and Westley collaborated with their three cousins, Kyla McHughes, Kevin Kropinyeri and Jamaya Branson, to produce artwork on the newly opened Granite Island Causeway.
The permanently embedded artwork shares two important Ngarrindjeri-Ramindjeri Dreaming stories.
“It feels so special and so powerful that we, as cousins, are able to share that story, that we are the custodians of that story – it makes us proud and strong within our spirit,” said Varcoe when the causeway opened.Bottom of Form
The First Nations art space is an ongoing exhibit with more work expected to be completed over the coming month as the installation is finalised.
Coral Street Art Space is located in Victor Harbor’s Mainstreet Precinct and is open from 10am to 4pm, Thursday to Tuesday.
Words: Katarina Bozic
Image: Cedric Varcoe weaving workshop at Coral Street Art Space