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Two Strong Sisters at Bunjilaka Melbourne Museum

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Aunty Eileen Harrison is a Kurnai Elder born on Lake Tyers Trust in Gippsland and Aunty Rochelle Patten is a Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba Elder from Mooroopna. Both ladies attended the opening of Two Strong Sisters Collection held at Bunjilaka yesterday. 3KND were there broadcasting live to air the stories of these two aunties. Aunty Di Kerr welcomed all to country that embraced the large crowd that attended.

With over 38 works on display, Two Strong Sisters Connected chronicles the women’s individual stories and shared similarities that extend beyond art despite growing up in different regions of Victoria. Two Strong Sisters Connected takes you on a journey through the stories of the artists, sharing matriarchal cultural knowledge, passed down from mothers and grandmothers for thousands of generations. It is through the strength of their friendship and shared experiences of the good times and the hard times of growing up on Country, caring for animals, the environment and the strong presence of culture and history that their works connect.

The spirit of sisterhood and enduring love for culture shines through these works celebrating the strength of Victorian Koorie Culture. A deep connection to country, culture and family are interwoven through each artwork. Aunty Eileen Harrison’s Sisters Connected depicts two strong women dressed in possum skin cloaks emerging from the shadows of shyness to share knowledge and Celebration of our Culture tells the story of keeping heritage and culture alive through song and dance passed down through generations. Aunty Rochelle Patten’s love of land can be found in the graceful strokes seen in Rivers and a shared unity with spirit in Black Swan. Kimberley Moulton, Senior Curator South Eastern Aboriginal Collections, Museums Victoria said that this exhibition is deep in matriarchal cultural knowledge.

We are honoured to host such important works in First Peoples Gallery that celebrate the strength of sisterhood and Victorian First Peoples histories. Elders Aunty Eileen and Aunty Rochelle are not only gifted artists but have generously shared their life stories and cultural connections in these works and to be able to learn from their stories is a great privilege.

Both women are mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers, respected community Elders and celebrated artists. Aunty Eileen Harrison has had three solo exhibitions, a touring exhibition and was awarded the 2004 NAIDOC Victorian Artist of the Year and Aunty Rochelle Patten has exhibited around Australia and was nominated for the prestigious Ros Bower Memorial Award.


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