UNTOLD: Marking Life Maintaining Indigenous Reflections


HANNAH PRESLEY is an Aboriginal curator based in Melbourne. She is a Director of Agency and was most recently curator of Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Victoria. Presley was the inaugural Yalingwa curator at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, where she curated A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness in 2018 and was First Nations Assistant Curator for Tracey Moffatt at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Her practice focuses on the development of creative projects with Aboriginal artists, working closely with artists, learning about the techniques, history and community that inform their making to help guide her curatorial process. Presley draws on inspiration from her early roles working at Warumpi Arts, with Papunya Community, Iltja Ntjarra, Many Hands and other Central Australian Art Centres. As Exhibitions Officer at Araluen Galleries, in Alice Springs, Presley had the privilege of coordinating a number of shows including the annual Desert Mob exhibition. After attaining her Bachelor of Visual Arts, Photography, (LaTrobe), she completed a Curatorial Residency through Creative Victoria, curating the 2012 Victorian Indigenous Arts Awards. Presley has since worked in curatorial roles with the Koorie Heritage Trust, Footscray Community Arts Centre and Craft Victoria, also initiating and coordinating the Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Project across a number of years.

Presley completed her Master of Arts Management (RMIT), with distinction, in 2014. Recent curatorial projects include Every Second Feels Like A Century, West Space, Melbourne (with Debbie Pryor); Weaving Country (with Vicki Couzens), Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne (2017); Hero Worship, Craft, Melbourne (2016) (with Debbie Pryor). In 2016, Presley was awarded Best Emerging Curator at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Agency Projects is taking over an entire weekend to present UNTOLD: Marking Life, Indigenous reflections on continuing/maintaining/living rituals. The weekend will bring together some of the leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creative thinkers, artists and creatives from across metropolitan and remote Australia to share knowledge and exchange ideas through creative workshops, panel discussions and performances.

The UNTOLD weekend will explore ideas like caring for Country, next generational ceremonial leadership, repatriation and maintenance of culture and relationships through art, culture and Country. Agency is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander not-for-profit organisation that celebrates and promotes First Nations art, culture and people on a local, national and international scale. The Tjungu Palya land paintings encapsulate the monumentality of Country and are an act of political, cultural and creative significance.

Painting on Country is about senior artists returning to their respective Country, to remain connected in ceremony, culture and contemporary art. Artists go out on Country as an important tool for intergenerational knowledge transfer and sharing of stories. Remaining on Country is one of the key attributes to sustain culture, nourish healthier communities and to build future generations of artists and leaders.

To explore the importance of remaining and painting on Country will be an esteemed panel including Teresa Baker, Pitjantjara woman and celebrated artist, Claire G Coleman, Noongar woman and acclaimed writer, Hannah Presley, Aboriginal Curator, Sally Scales, Pitjantjatjara woman, artist and advocate and Professor John Carty, scholar and Head of Humanities at the South Australia Museum and author of the acclaimed book BALGO. This talk is being presented as part of the program for UNTOLD: Marking Life, Indigenous reflections on continuing/maintaining/living rituals presented by Agency Projects.