Peta Clancy’s newly commissioned body of work Undercurrent seeks to uncover indigenous sites of significance within the City of Monash. Clancy consulted the Woi wurrung and the Boon wurrung people to seek their permission to photograph the sites and to speak to them about places of significance in the area. Clancy utilised the expertise of Dr Gary Presland, School of Geography, The University of Melbourne, for information regarding Indigenous culture and history in the region.
The new body of work Clancy has created for Portrait of Monash: the ties that bind builds upon her acclaimed exhibition entitled ‘Undercurrent’ at the Koorie Heritage Trust which was developed throughout 2018 during her Koorie Heritage Trust Fostering Koorie Art and Culture Residency. The project focussed on a specific massacre site on Dja Dja Wurrung Country that is now submerged under water. The works for this exhibition were created collaboratively with the Dja Dja Wurrung community, drawing upon oral histories, with deep respect and acknowledgment of the history of trauma that the site represents.
Clancy's newly commissioned Undercurrent continues this exploration. The process began by working with an academic and Indigenous cultural historian to review research documenting the area. She then consulted with Indigenous leaders from both the Woi wurrung and the Boon wurrung people to develop her understanding of the history of the area to inform the making of new work.
The outcome of the Undercurrent commission for MGA is a site-specific installation integrating two large photomurals (wallpaper images) that form the background for seven overlaying prints. In addition to these works a large map and an information panel and accompanying text is reproduced. The map is taken from 'The Land of the Kulin' by Gary Presland (1985). It shows the cultural and environmental significance of the area prior to settlement on a Melways map. This is reproduced along with a small oval photograph that documents the site of a scarred tree that has been relocated due to the establishment of a road. The sequence of works traverses the waterway that crosses municipal borders, Dandenong Creek, starting at Carrum Swamp and into Monash, focussing on a main junction of the creek which intersects at Jells Park in Glen Waverley and up through to Patterson Lakes.
Clancy’s practice has never shied away from the uncovering of hard truths in the narrative of colonisation. Her practice brings to light issues that lie just under the surface of the landscape that surrounds us. This site-specific installation draws us into its depths; it creates a narrative space that is at once overwhelming and contemplative – prompting us to reconsider what has been eroded, and what has been lost, as a result of invasion.
ould be clearer maybe.
Undercurrent 2020 (detail)
pigment ink-jet print
150 x 225 cm
collection of the artist
courtesy of the artist