The Native Institute exhibition at Blacktown Arts Centre

Posted: September 3, 2013 by Mo Crow in art exhibitions
Tags: , , ,

Karla Dickens Civilising SeriesKarla Dickens “Tears to be Civilised 2”
lace, wax, tea and rusted tacks
(click on the link above to read about Karla’s use of these materials in this piece)
The Native Institute Exhibition at the Blacktown Arts Centre is a deeply profound and transcending experience. The artists have taken one of the most disturbing and painful points in our history and open our eyes to the pain of dispossession and child removal.
Here’s Karla’s powerful artist statement about her Civilising Series-
” The Native Institue was born from good intentions. Those who knew better wanted to create a place to change, mould, and reinvent the natives into a mirror of their own standards, principles, morals and civilised ways. It was Australia’s birth place of white-washing the savage native, a training ground for work skills and the ways of white authority, white domestic skills and farming, a crash course in assimilation for those young enough not to resist. Given my interest in things handmade I have been pulled towards The Native Institute’s training of young girls in the civilising skills such as needle work. I considered the tears and grief of the people and lives that the process of civilising touched.”
Karla Dickens Good IntentionsKarla Dickens “Good Intentions
click on the link above to Karla’s website to read about this piece and related works
The Native Institute
A Common Pain from the Bible Series by Karla Dickens
click in the link above to read the story of this incredibly powerful piece
Karla’s work spoke directly to me with her use of lace, books and especially the knotted string, she is magic !
Here’s a link to more photos from the exhibition
if you are in Sydney this show is a must see, it finishes on the 21st with a Picnic Day, see you there!

  1. beth says:

    Wow, Mo. Really powerful work. I spent a long time looking at her website. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. These works are extremely powerful, beautiful and disturbing, the website with her descriptions fascinating, thank you for this post

  3. Patricia says:

    so so hard to view. and so so vital that we do. last night i was trying to remember a film–about two little girls walking “home” along a fence that separated them from the “other” world. wonder if you know the name of it?

    • Mo Crow says:

      Hi Patricia, Rabbit-Proof Fence is a brilliant film, when I wrote to Karla asking for permission to use her images and text she said,” powerful art comes from powerful stories needing to be told”… and she does

  4. nadia says:

    Excellent post, Mo. This resembles so many other chapters in the book of colonialism…with variations from place to place. And the violence engendered by such colonial practices will take centuries to dissipate. The British & French still seem to feel superior because of their “civilizing mission.” Hmmmmfff.

  5. Robyn says:

    Catching up after a blog break and enjoying following all your links. Intrigued by Karla Dickens work. Thanks Mo

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