"...those who are in search for names for houses, children, boats and other purposes, will find a rich treasury of words native to their own land…" - From Aboriginal Words and Place Names
While simultaneously being dispossessed from our land and waters, and having children stolen, our words were served up with no connection to people or place in the form of ‘Aboriginal’ word-list dictionaries. This new series of paper-based cultural vessels presented in Body Language explores the relationships between cultural objects and adornments as an extension of the body; the body itself as an extension of country and language; and country, language and body as elemental factors of connection and healing.
Using pages of Aboriginal Words and Place Names’ Body Language presents three-body adornment vessels with complementary dilly bags, embellished with red silk thread and glass beads. The use of red silk drawn from personal cross-cultural heritage and families histories relating to Asian migration to Australia due to the pearling industry boom in the early 1900s. The use of these materials as embellishment for the transformed paper featuring Aboriginal languages and words for place seeks to assert value not on the material but on the process and knowledge embedded within the forms.
Jenna Lee is a mixed-race Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri woman whose contemporary art practice explores the acts of identity/identification, label/labelling and the relationships formed between language, label and object. Being a Queer, Asian (Japanese, Chinese and Filipino), Anglo Australian, Aboriginal Woman, Lee’s practice is strongly influenced by her overlapping identities, childhood memory as well as maternal teachings of subject and process.
As an interdisciplinary artist, her work incorporates works on paper, projection and found object with a core focus on sculpture with a reoccurring use of paper, the book, language and text. Recent work explores the renewal and regeneration of the printed word through ritualistic acts of transformation, seeking to translate the page into new forms of cultural strength and beauty. This process follows the sequence of analysis, destruction and reconstruction, using papercraft techniques such as pulping, papier mache, folding, cutting and weaving to create dillybags, coolamons and other forms of cultural significance.