Bid to keep portrait in town

Bid to keep portrait in town

Metung based artist, Catherine van Wilgenburg, has composed a giant portrait of Gipsy Point resident and Aboriginal Australian writer, Bruce Pascoe.
The 2x2 metre work of art is made from grey box bark collected from Mr Pascoe’s farm land at Wallagaurah River on Yuin Country.
Ms van Wilgenburg also used paperbark from Altona street trees in Hobsons Bay to execute the piece. 
She is pleased with the result. “Because of its size, it’s almost like you go into the work,” Ms van Wilgenburg said.
In 2020, Ms van Wilgenburg was FLOAT artist in residence at Lake Tyers and is strongly influenced by Indigenous culture.
Following her artist residency, Ms van Wilgenburg was so taken with East Gippsland that she decided to move permanently to the area from Yarraville.
She now resides in Metung.
“A friend of mine knew Bruce, and I was moving here, so I thought this was an ideal opportunity so that’s why I did the portrait,” she said.
The painting is presently in Mallacoota and Ms van Wilgenburg wants it to remain there, preferably at the Community Club Rooms “because Bruce is a cricketer”. Bruthen musician and part-time Mallacoota resident, Eva Grunden, who was taught English by Mr Pascoe, has come up with the idea to crowd fund to keep Mr Pascoe’s portrait in the town, which is still healing from the horrific 2019/20 Black Summer Bushfires.
Ms Grunden, who spent her teenage years in Mallacoota, after her parents opted for a sea and tree change, has created a GoFundMe page for those wishing to donate to keep the magnificent portrait in Mallacoota.
Her parents still live in Mallacoota and she too was in the town when the bushfires arrived during the 2019/20 summer.
Mr Pascoe was also involved in helping local residents during the fires ferrying supplies along the river in his boat.
The amount required to keep the portrait in Mallacoota is$7000 and the GoFundMe campaign is off to a good start.
Ms van Wilgenburg is pleased that people want to see her work remain in Mallacoota.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Ms Wilgenburg fled her homeland in her early 20s, to volunteer on a mission in Papua New Guinea, before it was independent, to teach geography and social studies.
She says the Bruce Pascoe portrait documents her transformation from Eurocentric cultural values to emerging Australian eco-aesthetics and their origins within contemporary Australian Aboriginal cultures. Ms van Wilgenburg remains committed to learning traditional ecological knowledge and Aboriginal cultural heritage.
She has previously been involved in projects working with Indigenous people, namely the Wurundjeri community in Melbourne’s West, and remains actively immersed in a project revegetating the Moonee Ponds Creek.

IMAGE: Catherine van Wilgenburg’s bark portrait of Bruce Pascoe is hanging in the Mallacoota Arts Space. The artist is pictured with Eva Grunden (right), who has set up a GoFundMe campaign to keep it in the town. (PS)


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