'Sea HER Land' exhibition curated by Lisa Waup

It is HER story, which has been cradled in the form of a vessel, to encapsulate the essence of protection and strength (Exhibition Blurb).

I visited Craft Victoria specifically with the intention of viewing ‘Sea Her Land’, a group exhibition curated by Lisa Waup, a Gunditjmara and Torres Strait Islander artist. I liked the sound of an exhibition of works that were made from natural materials. The show did not disappoint!

At first glance, I saw a whole bunch of various baskets and vessels. The second time around, I noticed the unique sculptural forms of these baskets - some with organic curves; others that were constructed with sharp angles and lines. The forms seemed to roll with the unique qualities of the materials - or did they? I tried to imagine the way the materials were manipulated. For example, Nanette Shaw’s kelp water carriers looked like moulded leather.

Then, I was blown away at the intricate details. Some baskets were neatly woven with flax and decorated with feathers (in Gillian Garvie’s works ‘Emu’s at Dusk’ and 'Oceans Deep').  

Some of these works appeared functional - for example Cassie Leatham’s ‘Fishing Scoop’ and Beverley Meldrum’s ‘Kelp Baskets’. Other works were highly decorative - for example, Tallara Gray’s ‘Wrapped Up’ baskets were fascinating.

Lisa Waup’s porcelain cups in ‘Keepng Culture’ were also decorated with with various fibres, presented in a elevated position, and some contained additional exquisite crafts within. As a viewer, I felt privileged to come up close and look inside!

Nanette ShawLisa Waup

There was a bold colour statement in Beverley Meldrum’s ‘Washed Up’ basket, which was made with salvaged blue net, twine, and fishing line, and decorated with shark vertabrae. This interconnection between natural and human-made materials powerfully represents ‘complexed interactions’ noted in the exhibition blurb.

I had so much pleasure in viewing this cohesive exhibition, and perhaps it helped to challenge my handmade tastes that are dominated by traditional White (or Western) craft techniques and materials.  But more importantly, I had so much appreciation for the skills used in crafting these works.

'Sea HER Land' is on at Craft Victoria until 10 November, 2018.