Originally created for her young son, Ballarat teacher and artist Deanne Gilson’s painting Wadawurrung Cultural Tree of Knowledge is a lesson in local Indigenous history.
It brings together significant symbols and totems of the Wadawurrung people, such as the creator spirit Bunjil the Eagle and Waa the Crow, as well as traditional artefacts.
But it also references the Wadawurrung Traditional Owner’s Catholic heritage through her Aboriginal grandmother, with a cross visible near the top of the tree.
“There are lots of double meanings behind a lot of the symbols,” Ms Gilson explains.
She sourced local ochre and charcoal from her fire to add authenticity to the work.
The large painting won the Australian Catholic University’s Acquisitive Award for Work Based on Spirituality and Cultural Tradition, as part of this year’s Victorian Indigenous Art Awards.
Ms Gilson, who works primarily with clay and paint, says the recognition from the university is an “honour”, and appropriate, as all her work starts from “a spiritual place”.
Bellbrae artist and Wadawurrung woman Jenny Crompton won the renowned and widely recognised Deadly Art Award for her work Gathering at Godocut, which was crafted from seaweed and binder (ABC Local).