Kaiela deya, manu nyananan (River here, is home to all of us)

13 August 2022  - 12 March 2023

In 2019 before moving to the new SAM building, Kaiela Arts engaged six local artists to develop a collection of hand drawn symbols representing identity, knowledge, and narratives of place. The final composition designed and inlaid in granite and brass into the floor flows throughout Kaiela Arts and the foyer of SAM. Their collective presence symbolises the embedding of stories, identities, knowledges, diverse creative practices, and a commitment to sharing between both organisations and their visitors.

Kaiela deya, manu nyananan (River here, is home to all of us) is a new collaborative artwork for the SAM window by Kaiela Arts artists: Jack Anselmi (Yorta Yorta), Suzanne Atkinson (Yorta Yorta), Tammy-Lee Atkinson (Yorta Yorta), Frances Nicholson (Yorta Yorta & Wamba Wamba), Eva Ponting (Gunditjmara) and Lyn Thorpe (Yorta Yorta, Wamba Wamba & Woi-wurrung). It highlights the flow of the individual meanings behind the symbols and how they all intersect together to create a strong cultural collective story.

This artwork expresses our journey along the fresh water, where the knowledge of our culture is everlasting, where teaching and mentoring brings healing. It provides a strong foundation embedding our storytelling and representing the different clans throughout our land

Here are some of our stories…

Suzanne Atkinson is proud to call herself a weaver. Through weaving she embraces culture and one of her proudest pieces is a woven ithitha (bull ant). With the ithitha now embedded into the floor of Kaiela Arts she passes on our knowledge to keep our culture strong.

Along the river we find native fresh-water fish which are very important to Yorta Yorta people. Jack Anselmi has designed the fish whose bones we found scattered along the banks of the Kaiela Goulburn Rivers.

We also see the bayuna, the yellow box eucalyptus tree, which is connected to a range of cultural practicesespecially shelter and healing for our people. Lyn Thorpe pays homage to her Yorta Yorta ancestors, people and country with the young buds of the bayuna flower symbolising the growing relationship and work between Kaiela Arts and SAM. Like natural medicine and healing, relationships between our people and bayuna, creativity and art-making collaborations can activate strong medicine and healing for all people.

There are many other stories but we leave you with this final one. What you see in front of you are the long neck turtle, the ithitha, the fish, the bayuna, gum leaves from our river trees, footprints from the emu who shares the land, and our swirl, which represents our meeting place. These are creative contributions representing our culture and stories which we are so proud of.

Frances Nicholson and Lyn Thorpe

Artists: Jack Anselmi (fish bones), Suzanne Atkinson (ithitha / bull ant), Tammy-Lee Atkinson (foot print), Frances Nicholson (long neck turtle), Eva Ponting (eucalyptus leaves and emu track) and Lyn Thorpe (bayuna / yellow box flower)

SAM Window artwork development and design: Lyn Thorpe
Yorta Yorta language: Belinda Briggs

Kaiela Arts is an Aboriginal-owned art centre located on the traditional lands of the Yorta Yorta Nation. Kaiela Arts provides an important space for local Aboriginal artists and the community to connect to culture and share knowledge. Kaiela Arts’ gallery showcases the work of its artists and provides people from all backgrounds with a place to gain understanding of Aboriginal culture and acquire local Aboriginal art.

Curator: Jessica O'Farrell, Exhibitions Curator

Location: SAM Window, Ground Level, Entrance