WAG's Maar Nation Gallery wins state award

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The Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG) has been recognised at the 2021 Victorian Museums and Galleries Awards.

The WAG’s Maar Nation Gallery won the award for small museums and galleries, at the annual awards ceremony, hosted by the peak body for more than 1000 galleries and collecting organisations.

Opening in 2020, the The WAG Maar Nation Gallery and Aboriginal-led Legacy Initiative provides the First Nations people of South West Victoria with a central place for the interpretation of history and culture through exhibition. 

It also provides a meeting place for education, passing on knowledge, sharing stories and showing contemporary culture to many young people and the greater community.

“Despite multiple disruptions due to COVID-19, the team has hosted some outstanding exhibitions that celebrate Indigenous artists and Indigenous culture,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Vicki Jellie said.

“I’d like to thank the WAG staff, the Maar Nation Steering Committee and the artists for creating such a special place for everyone to experience.”

WAG Director Vanessa Gerrans said that the Maar Nation Gallery has emerged as a valuable conduit for local Aboriginal people.

"We feel privileged to support Aboriginal-led activities, exhibitions and outreach programs to help understand, preserve and share Maar Nation culture," she said.

"We send a warm congratulations to our Maar Nation Gallery Steering Committee members and all the artists and participants who have shared the journey so far.

"This is a great recognition of their contributions."

Local Keerray Woorroong early years educator and artist Sherry Johnstone has been employed as Curator of Cultural Engagement, developing a program of Aboriginal-led activities, exhibitions and outreach programs to help understand, preserve and share the Maar Nation culture, and strengthen identity, cultural tourism and employment for local Aboriginal youth.

What has struck me the most about this role is the opportunity to help so many talented people in the Aboriginal community. Many have amazing creations behind closed doors but they can be shy and don’t really put themselves out there much.

Our culture is bold and has sophisticated techniques, storylines and graphics that are unique to this area. Ancient traditions are also reflected in modern culture and there is a vast array of contemporary art, from painting to multimedia.

Artists are still passing on their stories, and we are looking for ways they can express themselves and their ideas through the Maar Nation space – it opens people’s minds.

Entry to the WAG is free.