It gives me great pleasure to speak about Aunty Marlene Gilson, a Wadawurrung elder who was recently voted the people’s choice at the 2015 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards. A self-taught artist, Aunty Marlene seeks to share Aboriginal culture and history to encourage our younger generation to keep stories alive through their own art.
Aunty Marlene received the $5000 award for her large-scale painting Bunjil’s Final Resting Place, Race Meeting at Lal Lal Falls. The piece depicts life in the early 1900s for Marlene’s ancestors and early European settlers in Lal Lal, a township 20 kilometres out of Ballarat. Aunty Marlene is a descendant of King Billy, an Aboriginal elder from the Ballarat region, who was alive at the time of the Eureka Stockade.
As part of the 2015 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards exhibition, Aunty Marlene’s work is currently on display at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Over 15 000 people have visited the gallery since the exhibition opened in August. Unfortunately I was unable to attend Aunty Marlene’s twilight talk at the gallery, as it was during the last sitting week. However, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate her on this wonderful achievement.