A new First Nations gallery called Djaa Djuwima will be established inside the Bendigo Visitor Centre.
- A new First Nations art gallery will be established in the Bendigo Visitor Centre building in Pall Mall
- The gallery will be called Djaa Djuwima, which means “Show, Share Country” in Djaara
- Three curated exhibitions will take place each year and showcase contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists
The gallery will host three curated exhibitions each year and follows the blockbuster Piinpi indigenous fashion exhibition run by the Bendigo Art Gallery in 2020.
Aunty Lyn Warren is part of the Wartaka, a creative advisory group established to help develop Djaa Djuwima.
She said the exhibit space’s name meant to show and share country in Djaara.
“I’m quite proud to be involved in this,” she said.
“With the Dja Dja Wurrung history and the story of the culture and the land that we’re on … I think it goes together really well.
“This is fantastic. It’s so central and it will be so good for our people.”
Showcasing country and culture
The gallery will open on November 24, with the first exhibit to be curated around the theme of Gutangarr Dja Dja Wurrung Djayi, which means, “You are on [or in] Dja Dja Wurrung Country”.
First Nations arts officer Janet Bromley will curate the exhibition.
She said Djaa Djuwima had been 10 years in the making.
“When I first came to Bendigo I was going, ‘Where is it?'” she said.
“This is what people have been doing for 60,000 years … it’s embedded in our DNA, this [art] is our way of communicating.”
She said local First Nations artists previously only had a dedicated exhibition space once a year in Bendigo.
“I’ve been running the Knuldoorong art exhibition in Dudley House every NAIDOC week,” she said.
“We’ve gone from 15 dedicated artists to 30 or more and I’m finding more and more all the time.”
Ms Bromley is keen to see the artist community grow at Djaa Djuwima.
“We now have a lot of young people, in our last exhibition we had two high school students,” she said.
“For First Nations people to be able to see their peers out here in the community, in this space, I think that will be an important thing.”
Djaa Djuwima is expected to showcase painting, weaving, making, woodwork and artefacts.
Run of success
In July 2020, the Bendigo Art Gallery ran its Piinpi exhibit which showcased Indigenous culture through fashion and design, and followed the success of the art gallery’s royal family, Balenciaga, and Marilyn Monroe exhibits.
Mayor Andrea Metcalf said Djaa Djuwima was an exciting and important cultural step in reconciliation.
She said the permanent gallery would help the community better understand, recognise and respect the living culture and creativity of the land’s traditional custodians.
“Djaa Djuwima is poised to become a beacon for contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and makers living in or connected to the Greater Bendigo region,” she said.
“This will be a safe place for creative and cultural expression, to explore identity, heritage, connection and storytelling.”
Ms Metcalf also said Djaa Djuwima was a response to a huge demand for First Nations artwork.
“Visitors are looking for artwork from our traditional owner groups,” she said.
“Artists can be artists. They know they’re going to have somewhere to sell their work.”
First Nations creatives are invited to express their interest in showcasing at the first exhibition by October 13.
The exhibition will open on Thursday, November 24 and run until February next year.