Artist Bianca Beetson has received a special award for curating the New England Regional Art Museum’s exhibition Myall Creek and Beyond, which explored the history and impact of the 1838 massacre of Aboriginal people.
Ms Beetson is the first person to receive the Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts Association (ACHAA)’s special award for Excellence to a NSW Aboriginal Curator.
The award recognizes work on an outstanding exhibition in the museum and gallery sector.
It was presented at the 2018 IMAGinE awards, which celebrate innovation and excellence in museums, galleries, and Aboriginal cultural centres across NSW.
Myall Creek and Beyond also received a Highly Commended in the Exhibition Projects (small/ medium originations) category.
“We are delighted that both Bianca and the exhibition have received this recognition,” NERAM director Rachael Parsons said.
“Myall Creek and beyond was an important project that involved significant partnerships, the commissioning of new works by Aboriginal artists, and a number of complimentary public programs and events.”
NERAM, along with The Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, Armidale Aboriginal Keeping Place, and the University of New England, produced a program of exhibitions, public programs, and a symposium.
“Importantly, the project aimed to highlight the critical work being done by the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, to acknowledge Australia’s true shared history, and to work towards meaningful reconciliation,” Ms Parsons said.
“It has been a privilege to work with all our partners, and to have Bianca as the guest curator.”
Ms Beetson selected artists to participate in research residencies at the Memorial and surrounding region, and produce new works responding to the history and site.
She discussed her curatorial approach in her catalogue essay:
“The title, Myall Creek and Beyond, refers to a very specific place, whilst the word 'beyond' could be interpreted as meaning to forget or move on. However, in the case of this exhibition, 'beyond' means deepening and expanding the conversation. The artists selected for this exhibition were chosen for their ability to create work which does exactly this: deepen the conversation.”
The ACHAA Committee and judging panel were impressed with the outstanding quality of all five nominees for the ACHAA Award for Excellence by an Aboriginal Curator.
ACHAA chair Steven Ross, Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre, said:
“It speaks highly of the interest in NSW Aboriginal arts, culture and heritage that there can be five nominees of such exceptional standard in this inaugural year of the award. It is their courageous and forward-thinking engagement by their host venues, that has made these projects possible.”
The panel commended all nominees for their work and commitment to Aboriginal arts and culture, and said the galleries and museums represented should also be applauded for highlighting NSW Aboriginal perspectives.
The IMAGinE awards promote and strengthen the NSW museum and gallery sector.
They acknowledge the outstanding achievements of over 8,000 paid and volunteer workers in fostering richer local communities and their contribution to the extraordinary diversity within the NSW museum and gallery sector.
They also honour best practice education programs, outreach projects, exhibitions, collection management projects, and individual achievements.