By Jed Lanyon
Hearth Galleries’ newest exhibition Strong Men Young Warriors explores the roles, responsibilities and qualities of manhood in Aboriginal culture.
Gallery director Christine Joy said, “This exhibition wants to celebrate men and masculinity… There is a range of different ways that the art tells stories about men’s qualities of steadfastness, strength, determination, courage and caring.”
One of the features of the exhibition includes shields created by local Indigenous teenagers.
“They have been collaborating as a group called Young Warriors with Ralph Hume from Yarra Ranges Council. Ralph teaches them about making and using traditional tool and weapons,” Ms Joy said.
Young Warriors is a group where young men build strength and reliance through culture and identity.
“These young men have become strongly connected to country through these sorts of activities,” Ms Joy said.
Mr Hume said he had been working with some of the young men since they were in primary school.
“It’s more than just the shields that are being made. This is about culture, this is about integrity, this is about their manhood… Part of what these shields are about is their identity and their role as Aboriginal men.”
Mr Hume, a Yorta Yorta man, said that each shield had been created or repurposed from logs that had already been cut or trees that had fallen.
“In a European and colonial context, there has been so much taken away from our men and their roles and their responsibilities.”
Mr Hume said he hopes the exhibition will help to remove the stigma associated with young Aboriginal men, one that comes from a deficit model, while celebrating their roles and responsibilities.
“Our men have roles and responsibilities; they are great carers, lovers of land and family and responsibility. What we teach our young fellas is what was taught to me and the legacies passed down from our older people in that there are three businesses. There’s women’s business, there’s men’s business and then there is family business.
“Family business is everything. In our families we have structure and roles and responsibility and that’s what these shields represent for these young fellas.”
Due to the state government’s announcement regarding the temporary shutdown of non-essential services, Hearth Galleries and the exhibition will be closed to the public.
For more information about the exhibition and Hearth Galleries, visit: https://www.christinejoycuration.com.au/hearth-galleries.html.