Baluk Arts’ artist shines bright

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Lisa Waup’s art is equally diverse and dramatic, tender yet tough. She is a Gunditijmara and Torres Strait Islander woman who weaves her story and connection to Country proudly through found objects, natural materials and a passion for print, texture and form. Representing Mornington’s own Baluk Arts at the 13th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair from August 9-11, she chats to Mornington Peninsula Magazine about her spirit-infused work.   

What does it mean to you to be a Baluk Arts featured artist at the 13th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair?

It is a real honour. It is a wonderful way to show what Baluk Arts has to offer and the contemporary nature of our artists’ work. There are only two Aboriginal art centres in Victoria — Baluk Arts in Mornington and Gallery Kaiela in Shepparton — and there are well over 70 Aboriginal art centres being represented this year. We want to show what makes us unique. 

What work will you be showing?

My work will be screen-printed and stitched into tapa cloth protection shields. I sourced the tapa cloth from Papua New Guinea, which also details my connections to PNG. There’ll be some works on paper and jewellery using natural materials, including screen-printed kelp and woven earrings too.

Please describe your work — materials, techniques and practice. 

I use recycled and natural materials that I source from Country. I use feathers, bull kelp, found and given objects from family and friends such as bottle tops too. I’ve recently acquired old Public Transport Commission metal tags that I’ve turned into one-off painted jewellery pieces. My practice revolves greatly around family, connections to Country and my history. I gather a great deal of strength from how I have been brought up. My three beautiful children and the connections to my birth family are always expressed in my work. 

How does it represent your connection to Country and the state of our planet?

I consider myself a bit of a bowerbird. I am forever collecting objects and materials. Nature is amazing and discarded objects can be sculptural in their own right. I am saving them from landfill. 

What is it about weaving that you love so much?

It puts me into a meditative state. I am being guided by above when I create. I just put myself wholly into the piece to weave stories.

You’re also a photographer and printmaker. Can you tell us a bit about your partnership with Craft Victoria and Ingrid Verner?

I studied photography and printmaking at RMIT and still have a great respect and passion for the two mediums. I have drawn ever since I was a little girl, so printmaking is a wonderful medium for me. I was originally approached by Creative Victoria and Craft Victoria to see if I would be interested in creating a fashion collection in collaboration with Melbourne-based designer Verner. Craft’s Sarah Weston was also a driving force behind this collection, which was launched in 2017 for Melbourne Fashion Week — Global Indigenous Runway with great success. The designs featured my drawings from my visual diary and Ingrid Verner translated our combined stories perfectly. We will be releasing the second collection titled Journeys this year at Country to Couture at DAAF and also Melbourne Fashion Week. A part of this collection was also showcased last year at Hong Kong Business of Design Week.

Tell us about your role as curator.

I have been very fortunate to curate several exhibitions at Baluk Arts both nationally and internationally. My favourite exhibition/project thus far is Too-roo-dun, meaning ‘bunyip’ in Boonwurrung language. It was a project that was two years in the making and we worked with seven Aboriginal communities (including Baluk Arts) around Melbourne and Greater Melbourne. The exhibition is still showing in different galleries and at present is at Frankston Art Centre. The idea was for the bunyips to be seen in each of the council areas where they were made. Next year it will be Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association’s turn.

And finally, what’s next for Lisa Waup after the art fair?

After DAAF I have a few exhibitions to work towards and some exciting projects at Baluk Arts. It gives me much pleasure to work with the incredible community at Baluk Arts. We have some very talented artists here who are creating outstanding work.


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