Barkly, uprooted

Lauren Gower & Nicole Paul, 2019
Martyn Myer Arena, The Stables. Melbourne 

There are six Barkly Streets in Melbourne (and many more throughout Victoria). They are named after Henry Barkly, who was the Governor of Victoria from 1856 to 1863.

Drawn together by our affinity for plants and decolonising practices, we have come together to collaborate in decolonising a garden in Kulin country. This project is part of our ongoing responses to respectfully living on Kulin country as a trawlwoolway woman from northeast Tasmania and a Cree-Métis woman from Canada.

Located on Barkly Street, this garden was home to five well established rose bushes, planted half a century ago by the original homeowners. Barkly, uprooted liberates the soil from its colonial occupants to make space for plants endemic to the area. The enormous amount of labour required to dig up roses that have been in the ground for decades represents the labour of decolonisation, which falls disproportionately on First Nations people.

Ground In Stone, 2019, consists of small boulders collected from areas of significance to us within Kulin country. This work is representative of First Nations medicine wheels or tipi circles, created in an effort to establish familiarity within a new home. The reclaimed soil is placed within Ground In Stone, protecting it, while rose bushes are placed at each of the four stone outcrops, reflective of the four directions; North, East, South, and West. The last of the displaced roses is suspended, a metaphor for the suspended state of settler colonial being while First Nations sovereignty remains unrecognised.