Indigenous weaving grasses planting in Goulburn Valley
On Saturday 27th July, Bruce and Serana Hunt-Hughes, landowners in Violet Town, Victoria, invited local residents and geographers to their property for a weaving grass planting day with Museum Incognita, the 2018–2019 School of Geography Artist in Residence.
Museum Incognita is a collaborative project of artists Fayen d’Evie and Katie West, which revisits neglected, concealed or obscured histories of place to active new encounters through a custodial ethic. During their activities on residency in the Goulburn Valley over the last year, Katie and Fayen developed a friendship with photographer Serana Hunt-Hughes. The grasses planting event on Serana and Bruce's property is a continuation of, and legacy to, the residency and collaboration.
The idea for the weaving grass plantings originally emerged from conversations with Suzanne Atkinson and Eva Ponting from Aboriginal art centre Kaiela Arts in Shepparton, who spoke of difficulties sourcing and harvesting local materials for weaving. Building on these conversations, the plantings aim to cultivate resources for local weavers by reclaiming landscapes for communal harvesting and making. Sourced from the Euroa Arboretum, the grasses were brought down by Serana to Melbourne and accompanied Katie and Fayen at their Open Studio at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in June. They have now found a home by a dam on Serana and Bruce's property, beginning the slow process of also reconnecting what were once natural waterways on site.
The event was attended by a warm and diverse group of geographers, landowners, artists, local residents and landscape regeneration activists. Serana and Bruce catered the day with a delicious spread of bushfood-infused dishes and locally grown produce. Everyone stepped in to get their hands dirty together—digging holes, transplanting roots, backfilling soil, watering in—before stepping back as the sun started to set to admire the budding new landscape.
Museum Incognita has received interest in expanding the project to more sites, as steps to healing culture, country and future. Alongside the artists, a group of geographers and local collaborators are in the process of preparing a critical reflection on the ethics and activations of the event, as a careful examination, and a cautious incitement, for future plantings.