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Some wild and strange animals

February 7, 2010

While I’m yet to spot the fabled black panther sneaking around outside Melbourne, I did see some wild and strange animals yesterday that both lifted my spirits and inspired me to create work with integrity. It was a contemporary Indigenous sculpture exhibition at the Melbourne Museum called Menagerie, meaning ‘a collection of wild or strange animals, esp. for exhibition.’

Of all the wicked and beautiful animals made of grass, electric wire, wood, aluminium, ceramics – I found the strangest and most intriguing of them all to be a Tasmanian devil called Hella, made of stitched Bull Kelp (that’s her up the top).

Tasmanian artist Vicki West collects washed-up kelp from the ocean, the same material that her ancestors used to create water carriers from. “Material holds memories. I use it as a metaphor for survival” says West, who has written a thesis entitled ‘Art: making a tool for cultural survival’.

“It’s important for me to let people know that we [Tasmanian Aboriginals] are still here, we’re not extinct, and my work is a celebration of that culture. Hella is my voice for a wider [  ] respect and responsibility for our ‘home’. Since European invasion, disrespect for the land and the natural environment play a major role in the near-extinction of yet another significant Tasmanian mammal”.

If you’re in Melbourne, go and see it, if you’re in a land far away, see some more images here. Below is Garth Lena’s beautiful wood & ceramic Echidna. All images courtesy of Melbourne Museum.

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