Barring – Nganjin: an exhibition of Stolen Generations survivors

Brendan Rees

An Aboriginal art exhibition capturing the stories of grief, loss, and resilience from Stolen Generations survivors will be held at Federation Square as part of National Reconciliation Week.  

Hosted by the Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT), the exhibition will showcase more than 45 artworks from First Nations’ artists including paintings, weaving, prints, and mixed media – which the Trust’s CEO Tom Mosby said would be a powerful display of truth telling.

Titled the Barring – Nganjin, meaning “Our Path Our Journey”, the exhibition will be largest collection of Stolen Generations art in any single exhibition of the KHT, which will also feature work of Link-Up Victoria, a support service for Stolen Generations that helps connect families.

The Stolen Generations are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples who were forcibly removed from their families under government policy and direction from the 1910s to the 1970s.

Mr Mosby said the trauma of the Stolen Generations survivors was still being felt by individuals, families, and communities – with each artwork being both a creative response and an act of healing.

“The powerful thing about this exhibition is that it is how the artists actually portray themselves and the trauma through the art so it’s a powerful exhibition that I really encourage all people to actually visit,” he said.  “We all hear about Stolen Generations and Reconciliation Week, but the exhibition is something tangible that people can visit and visually reflect as part of their journey towards reconciliation as well.”

The exhibition will be supported by the curatorial assistance of Link-Up Victoria’s Aunty Bev Murray who will also display some of her work alongside collections from Connecting Home, which provides broad-range services for Stolen Generations.

“Art and storytelling are important healing and wellbeing elements in our communities and this collection of works strongly portray the visual and powerful stories of each individual,” Aunty Bev Murray said.

As part of Reconciliation Week, which runs from May 27 to June 3, Mr Mosby encouraged people to book in a guided cultural walk at KHT.

“People are taken on a tour where it’s looking at the land on which Melbourne is built, pre-settlement history of Melbourne and also the settlement history of Melbourne as well and the impact on Victorian Aboriginal people and communities,” he said.

“We really encourage people to visit us, not only as part of Reconciliation Week. Reconciliation is something we should all be thinking about all year-round.”

Visitors can also visit the KHT shop which specialises in Victorian Aboriginal products.

Barring – Nganjin: Our Path Our Journey opens May 26 and runs until August 28 at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Yarra Building, Fed Square. Free entry •

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