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Inaugural ACHAA Award for Excellence by an Aboriginal Curator presented to Bianca Beetson at 2018 IMAGinE awards.

Museums & Galleries of NSW has announced the winners of the 2018 IMAGinE awards.

This year the Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts Association (ACHAA) presented a special award to a NSW Aboriginal Curator in recognition of their work on an outstanding exhibition in the museum and gallery sector.

Bianca Beetson, guest curator at the New England Regional Art Museum won the award for Excellence by an Aboriginal Curator for Myall Creek and beyond.

New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) along with The Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, Armidale Aboriginal Keeping Place and University of New England produced a program of exhibitions, public programs and a symposium that explored the history and on-going impact of the 1838 massacre of Aboriginal people at Myall Creek.

Bianca Beetson was engaged as a guest curator to develop the curatorial direction of the NERAM exhibition. In this role she was responsible for selecting artists to, firstly participate in research residencies at the Memorial and surrounding region, and secondly produce new works responding to the history and site.

Beetson’s curatorial approach is discussed in her catalogue essay:

“The title, Myall Creek and beyond, refers to a very specific place, whilst the word ‘beyond’ could be interpreted as meaning to forget or move on. However, in the case of this exhibition ‘beyond’ means deepening and expanding the conversation. The artists selected for this exhibition were chosen for their ability to create work which does exactly this: deepen the conversation.”

The ACHAA Committee and judging panel were impressed with the outstanding quality of all five nominees for the ACHAA Award for Excellence by an Aboriginal Curator. All nominees are to be commended for their work and commitment to Aboriginal arts and culture. The galleries and museums represented should also be applauded for highlighting NSW Aboriginal perspectives.

ACHAA Chair, Steven Ross, Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre said:

“It speaks highly of the interest in NSW Aboriginal arts, culture and heritage that there can be five nominees of such exceptional standard in this inaugural year of the award. It is their courageous and forward-thinking engagement by their host venues, that has made these projects possible.” 

Myall Creek and beyond also received a Highly Commended in the Exhibition Projects (small/ medium originations) category.

“We are delighted that both Bianca and the exhibition have received this recognition,’ said NERAM Director, Rachael Parsons. ‘Myall Creek and beyond was an important project that involved significant partnerships, the commissioning of new works by aboriginal artists and a number of complimentary public programs and events.”

“Importantly the project aimed to highlight the critical work being done by the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial to acknowledge Australia’s true shared history and to work towards meaningful reconciliation. It has been a privilege to work with all our partners and to have Bianca as the guest curator.”

Recognising innovation and excellence in 500 museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres across NSW, the IMAGinE awards acknowledge the outstanding achievements of over 8,000 paid and volunteer workers in fostering richer local communities and their contribution to the extraordinary diversity within the NSW museum and gallery sector.

The IMAGinE awards promote and strengthen the NSW museum and gallery sector. They honour best practice education programs, outreach projects, exhibitions, collection management projects and achievements of individuals.

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