NAIDOC Week at SAM: Conversation with leading emerging Indigenous photographer

Indigenous photographer Hayley Millar-Baker will participate in a conversation about some of her photographic processes, themes and ideas revealed in SAM's new acquisition, A Series of Unwarranted Events, as part of NAIDOC Week at 12 noon on Tuesday 16 July.

SAM Community Engagement, Indigenous officer Belinda Briggs, (Yorta Yorta, Wamba Wamba) will host the discussion with Millar-Baker who is of the Gunditjmara Peoples whose Country rests in far south-western Victoria bordering the Glenelg River in South Australia.

The new acquisition, Untitled (Theft of the White men’s sheep), is one of five works in A Series of Unwarranted Events, works that collectively suggest a narrative and a pictorial framework from which to explore and reconcile National identity. Utilising a personal archive held for safekeeping by her grandfather and her own collection of images captured on and off Country, Millar-Baker’s photographic works interrogate the historical, social and cultural complexities carried from the past through to the present day.

Untitled (Theft of the White men’s sheep) portrays the colonial and geographical remnants associated with the now infamous Eumeralla Wars. From 1834 to 1849 a chain of violent and bloody events took place between the Gunditjmara and the European squatters colonising the lands between Port Fairy and Portland, Victoria. Millar-Baker’s collage of imagery juxtaposes Country, with its large expanse of volcanic hills, with the colonial architectural heritage that still remains in order to encourage new conversations around the impacts and legacy of colonisation from a First Nation’s perspective.

In her artist’s statement on these works, Hayley Millar-Baker said “The Gunditjmara would often capture livestock from the colonists’ settlements and return to camp through rocky terrain deeming the colonisers incapable of retrieving their stock without injury”. Her observations acknowledge the defiance, strength and resilience of her People in the face of colonisation.

Through her contemporary approaches to photography, Millar-Baker draws strength from her bloodlines, history, and landscape – confronting and crafting past, present, and future stories of South-East Aboriginal existence, and honouring the connectedness of intergenerational experiences of Aboriginality.

Millar-Baker has undertaken major collaborative projects as part of Our Country including Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) Education in partnership with Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS), Heide Museum of Modern Art's exhibition, 2019, and the Melbourne International Arts Festival, as part of the ART TRAM series, 2018. 

Millar Baker was shortlisted for the influential John Fries Award for early career visual artists John Fries Award 2019 and has her work is included in major collections including MUMA, State Library of Victoria and Warrnambool Art Gallery.

The session is free but bookings via Eventbrite are essential.