At the recent Museums and Galleries National Awards night, held on May 15th at the Araluen Centre in Alice Springs, NERAM was awarded the MAGNA Award for an Indigenous Project for their Myall Creek and beyond program.
Developed over two years and presented in 2018, Myall Creek and beyond explored the history and impact of the 1838 massacre of 28 Aboriginal people, and the importance of acknowledging the truth of this history in the process of reconciliation. The project was developed in partnership with the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, The Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place, University of New England, Beyond Empathy and Arts North West.
The program included exhibitions, featuring newly commissioned works by leading Aboriginal artists, a symposium, community workshops, talks and a publication developed to provide multiple engagement points for the community to learn and participate in the conversation about Australia’s colonial past. The culmination point was the 180th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony at the Myall Creek Memorial on June 10th, which had over 1000 people attend to remember the Wirrayaraay people and participate in a moving ceremony that included dance, song, speeches and a powerful moment of regret and forgiveness between descendants of the survivors of the massacre and descendants of the perpetrators.
NERAM Director, Rachael Parsons and program Curator Bianca Beetson accepted the award. “Myall Creek and beyond was developed in partnership with the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, to highlight and hopefully contribute to their excellent work to acknowledge our shared past and to move forward together towards reconciliation,” said Rachael Parsons in her acceptance speech. “To the Wirrayaraay people, we remember them.”
“We are very grateful and excited to receive this award on behalf of all the project partners and artists who made the project possible,” said Rachael Parsons. “The program aimed to use contemporary art to illuminate a suppressed history and to contribute to necessary national dialogue led by artists, activists, and organisations like the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial. This award and the positive response we have had towards the program hopefully shows that we were successful in this goal.”
Myall Creek and beyond was supported by Regional Arts NSW through the Regional Arts Fund, the new South Wales Government through Create NSW and the Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts Indigenous Language and Arts Program.
Participating artists: Robert Andrew; Fiona Foley; Julie Gough; Colin Isaacs; Jolea Isaacs; David and Tim Leha with Quarralia Knox; Laurie Nielsen; Judy Watson, Warraba Weatherall, as well as the Myall Creek Gathering Cloak made by members of the local community working with Carol McGregor, Adele Chapman-Burgess and Avril Chapman.