Music / “Byrd Round Table”, The Song Company. At Wesley Uniting Church, March 16. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD
CANBERRA glass artist Mel George has won the National Institute of Dramatic Art Indigenous Fellowship for Cultural Leadership as part of a grant to the Institute from the Luminis Foundation.In addition to the fellowship, the $300,000 grant also supports the Luminis Foundation Director’s Studio, a black box teaching space for NIDA’s MFA students in directing.
George, whose hidden Aboriginal inheritance has come to light in recent years, says she hopes to “amplify the visibility of artistic excellence that exists in the most remote and inaccessible areas of our country”.
She says she has a strong desire to identify with her Aboriginal heritage. Research unveiled that her paternal grandmother was forced to denounce her Aboriginality and was then unable to ever speak about her past and her culture. She will participate in a Reunion to Country scheduled for April on Dieri and Dhirari Country in the Lake Eyre region.
As part of this rediscovery George has been consulting gratis for Bula’ Bula Arts Centre in Ramingining, NT For the past year and a half, where she says she has deepened her personal understanding of the skills and aesthetics of the Yolngu people. Her view is that a key part of reconciliation is through arts and culture.
Alongside being offered a place in the Cultural Leadership Masters Course at NIDA, George has secured a role as the Cultural Facilitator at Bula’ Bula Arts Centre, where she hopes to develop deeper understandings of the fusion of contemporary Yolgnu artists engaged in their traditional cultural storytelling. She was elected by arts advocates Robyn Archer (chair of MFA Cultural Leadership) and Associate Professor Cheryl Stock (director, Graduate Studies and Head of Cultural Leadership).
George is a well-known identity in the Canberra glass community who spent eight years co-owning and operating Studio Ramp LLC, an artist atelier in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Back in Australia she has been a curator at CraftACT: Craft and Design Centre and artistic programs manager of the Canberra Glassworks, during which time she became a member of the Advisory Board of the ACT Indigenous Textile Artists Group.
“We are delighted to not only contribute to the career of a leading indigenous Australian with this outstanding learning opportunity,” co-founder of Luminis Partners and a director of the Luminis Foundation Simon Mordant, said.