The Hepburn Hub at The Rex Public Art Commission has been awarded to a collaboration between master weaver Aunty Marilyne Nicholls (Dja Dja Wurrung/Yorta Yorta/Baraba Baraba/Wadi Wadi/Jupagulk) and Canberra Glassworks.
Council accepted the recommendation of its Public Art Advisory Committee to commission Aunty Marilyne and Canberra Glassworks to create two hand woven and three blown glass fish traps, representing the traditional practice of harvesting fish from the waterways on Dja Wurrung Country.
Aunty Marilyne is a Dja Dja Wurrung elder. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and collected by the National Gallery of Victoria, AIATIS in Canberra, the Koori Heritage Trust in Melbourne and the Swan Hill Regional Gallery.
To create the art works, Aunty Marilyne will use locally harvested fibre to weave two fish traps measuring about 1.2 meters in length and 180-200 mm in diameter at the widest part. Canberra Glassworks will produce three glass replicas from moulds of Aunty Marilyne’s work. Aunty Marilyne will then etch the glass, replicating the detail of woven pieces.
The five traps will be suspended in the proscenium arch in the Hub, all oriented in the same direction, as they would be in the river, and they will be visible throughout the public space.
The finished artwork will acknowledge the rich culture of the traditional custodians and create greater community and visitor awareness of the Djaara people and culture.
This award follows a previous controversial commission of murals for the Rex by David Bromley in 2018. That commission was awarded directly by the former CEO, Aaron van Egmond, without reference to the Council’s Public Art Advisory Committee. The Committee later found the work to be of questionable merit. Council is considering the report of the Public Art Commission on the mural but is yet to make a decision about its future.