Arts / Artwork commemorates Ngunnawal elder

THE life of Ngunnawal elder, the late Violet Bulger, has been commemorated with an artwork called “Meeting Place”  installed yesterday in “Violet’s Park” as part of the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival.

“Meeting Place” by Tony Steel and Brett Carpenter

This project was undertaken by the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, which worked closely with sculptor Tony Steel and Aboriginal artist Brett Carpenter, as a result of successfully receiving an ACT Heritage grant.

Aunty Agnes and niece Selina Walker at Yesterday’s event

At the time of her death in 1993, Aunty Violet was survived by her five children, 56 grandchildren, 196 great-grandchildren and 50 great-great-grandchildren, including present-day Ngunnawal elder Aunty Agnes Shea, who was present with her family members to perform a Welcome to Country and to take part in the commemoration. Her story was featured in  “Footprints on Our Land”, a documentary film about Aunty Agnes Shea also driven by Tuggeranong Arts Centre.

On the day the president of the Tuggeranong Community Arts Association, Karl Maftoum, announced Aunty Agnes as a patron of Tuggeranong Arts Centre. 

Signage at Violet’s Park

Minister for Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman yesterday (May 4) officially unveiled the artwork, saying: “Violet was a highly respected elder who represented her community for several decades.”

Born in 1899 at the Aboriginal Station of Brungle in New South Wales, Violet grew up as a member of the Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal community.

Mr Gentleman explained that she was one of the first Aboriginal children to be forcibly removed from her family by missionaries in 1909 and was denied the right to visit her family until she was 21 years of age. She then returned to the community and married in 1925.

“Violet learned midwifery from her mother and worked throughout her adult life to assist pregnant women on Aboriginal reserves,” Mr Gentleman says.

He stresses that throughout her life Violet remained a vibrant and positive woman supporting her family and community.

The Minister encouraged the local community to visit Violet’s Park, located in Ngunnawal, off Marungul Avenue, to learn about Violet’s extraordinary life.

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