Masters Thesis

Homing Away from Home: Identity Through a Transnational Cree-Métis Arts Practice


This research exemplifies the important role Indigenous art practices have within the development and maintenance of identity formation whilst practicing away from home and community. The artwork created within this research has come from experiences of carrying artistic and cultural practices from Canada to Australia. It was done as a response to the complex challenges which arise from establishing identity and cultural practices through instances of displacement. I discuss the value of working cross-culturally between various nations, and the influence it has had on my creative project.

The artwork and research provide examples of how engagement with Indigenous arts practices can help foster and maintain cultural connections unaffected by geographical location or place of practice. My research culminated in six bodies of work: Ground in Stone, an installation of stones gathered across Melbourne and Canada, Spirit Threads, a hanging installation of threads embroidered with stones and seed beads, Flora, a series of seven beaded works, Bad Medicine, one-hundred hand sewn pouches, Blak Apothecary, an installation of living plants and antique apothecary bottles, and a series of photographic documentation of these works and their processes. These works have been presented as photographs in the thesis and exhibited throughout the course of the research. The creative works are related through a focus on materiality and Indigenous knowledge, particularly focusing on native plant knowledge and botanicals. Through these artworks I ask why Indigenous art is often defined as either contemporary or traditional. I reflect on these terms in relation to Western ideology and perceived notions surrounding Indigenous representation, cultural authenticity, validity, and values of Indigenous artistic practices.

I contemplate ways in which I can rebuke these ideas through the use of art. I consider how other Indigenous artists and researchers are using artwork to foster identity and as a method of breaking down this possession of Indigeneity and representation. Done in calm gentleness, this work is ensnared within a duality that both challenges the violence of our colonial history which caused chaotic disruptions to be rooted throughout generations, and the celebration of the reactivation and assertion of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.

(50% creative practice and 50% written dissertation).

If you're interested in reading my research thesis please feel free to email me for a PDF version! 

It can also be downloaded via Minerva Access, the University of Melbourne's online research publication repository here.


Untitled photo