WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images, story and voices of deceased, by and about persons. Discretion advised.
5 July 2021 // Maree Clarke
Maree Clarke (born 1961 in Swan Hill, Victoria) is a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung/Wemba Wemba woman. She is an independent multi-disciplinary artist and curator, with a 30 year history of working in the contemporary and cultural First Nations arts sector.
She grew up in and around Mildura in North Western Victoria and began working as an educator in her home town in 1978 which provided her with a solid base from which to develop her career in promoting and supporting South East Aboriginal histories, culture and knowledge.
The City of Port Phillip became the first Victorian local government to establish a centre dedicated to actively promoting Aboriginal arts and culture, creating the first Koori Arts Unit in St Kilda. Clark was the first Koori Arts Officer from 1994 - 1998 and instrumental in its success. In 1996, Clarke curated, with Kimba Thompson and Len Tregonning, the We Iri We Homeborn Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Festival.
In 1988 Maree became the curator of the Koorie Heritage Trust where she mentored First Nations art practitioners in Victoria.
Maree is a leading possum skin artist, also working with kangaroo teeth, echidna quills, glass, photography and more. Maree is known for her open and collaborative approach to cultural practice. She consistently works in intergenerational collaboration to revive dormant cultural knowledge – and uses technology to bring new audiences to contemporary southeast Aboriginal arts.
Maree has been the Indigenous Curator at Wyndham Art Gallery since 2016 and has led a contingent of south eastern First Nations artists to share their work in Ottawa, Canada as part of a cross cultural project.
Maree’s own practice has been created around these roles, with her exhibitions and extensive photographic archives enjoyed by many.
In 2020 she was awarded an Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship enabling her to dedicate herself to the full-time research and development of her upcoming survey, Re imagining Culture - Bloodlines. This major survey will be exhibited across three galleries at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The project will see her continuing to collaborate with artists across generations in both Australia and Canada. It will be shown in a variety of mediums and will attest to the power of cultural reclamation.
Research and revival of cultural practices which have been lost as a result of colonisation form an important part of Clarke's art practice. Clarke goes to museums to research and work with objects in their collections. Her work has seen her become a pivotal figure in the reclamation of cultural and artistic practices of South Eastern Australian Aboriginal peoples.