Dabaa.malang Guyulgang is the inaugural exhibition of Laneway Lightbox Open-Air Gallery. Launching during NAIDOC Week 2023, it features local female First Nations artists Glennys Briggs, Teisha Maksymow-McGuiness, Patricia Cerminara and Brittany Wright (AWAHS Koori Women’s group). The artists explore uneasy narratives, unravel displacement and trauma, and discover cultural heritage that has existed throughout time, in search of ways to healing and self-strengthening. The storytelling through dynamic visual languages brings us to the journey of resilience while stressing the role of knowledge sharing. Dabaa.malang Guyulgang means ‘enduring and strong mob’ in Wiradjuri language.
Installation view of The Walk Off, by Glennys Briggs. Photo credit: Jeremy Weihrauch.
The Walk Off
by Glennys Briggs
The Walk Off is a body of work by Taungurung, Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri artist Glennys Briggs. It reimagines a mass strike she heard from her grandmother against Cummeragunia Aboriginal Reserve situated in Yorta Yorta Country on a bend in the Murray River in New South Wales. The Reserve had controlled First People’s life in dreadful living condition since its foundation in 1888.
Being forced to live in the Reserve where cultures and languages are forbidden, First Nations people experienced displacement, cruel treatment, starvation, a lack of medical care and miserable housing condition. On 4th February 1939 came the first strike when they moved across the Murray River to Victoria and set up living the banks of the Goulburn River in small makeshift housing. The grandmother of Aunty Glennys is amongst many people there.
The song they sang as they left was Burra Ferra, the lyrics of which can be seen on one of the paintings. Learned from black American Gospel singers and transposed into Yorta Yorta, this song references freedom from the oppression.
Learning about stories told by grandmothers, mothers and aunties, Aunty Glennys reveals the courage and resilience First Nations women had held to fight for their families. By interpreting the walk off in a dream-like approach, she brings us to a psychic state of the event in exploration of family strengths informing her personal identity.
About the artist:
The art practice of Glennys Briggs spans printmaking, painting, possum skin cloak making and sculptural pieces. Her work is based around her strong cultural connection to her country and people. Like a time-lapse photograph, her work is ever-changing to reveal the long and sometimes dark histories of this shared country.