Carriageworks unveils largest work to date by Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist Thea Anamara Perkins, now showing until 12 Feb 2023. 14 Dec 2022

Carriageworks, one of Australia’s most significant contemporary multi-arts organisations, today unveiled Stockwoman, the largest and most ambitious work to date by Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist Thea Anamara Perkins. Covering the walls of the Carriageworks’ public space, the large-scale mural is now showing until 12 February 2023, and as part of Sydney Festival.

Created onsite over three weeks, the Carriageworks’ Clothing Store resident artist has painted her great-grandmother and Arrernte elder Hetty Perkins, who from the age of 14 worked riding horses and branding cattle in the gold mining settlement of Arltunga, 110 km east of Mparntwe (Alice Springs). In response to the national myth of Ned Kelly, Perkins reimagines a First Nations matriarch as the truest representation of a strong and daring spirit. She adapts the visual vernacular of the Australian Gothic tradition, to acknowledge the role this trope has played in framing the Australian landscape. By tracing a First Nations matriarchal line across Country from Mparntwe to Gadigal Country, Sydney, Stockwoman reframes national foundation myths.

Artist Thea Anamara Perkins said: “Stockwoman is about exploring the strong matriarchal line of my family through my great-grandmother Hetty Perkins, and in doing so questions the figures in Australian history that we choose to mythologise. As a First Nations person, I began considering who my heroes are versus those often upheld in our popular imagination, such as Ned Kelly.”

“Nana Hetty is a big source of strength in our family and has always been an important figure for us. There were a range of forces that she was negotiating: the state, the church, the grave and present danger of being on the frontier, while also providing care to nine children and being a pillar of the community. These are the figures that we should be celebrating. It should be these strong First Nations matriarchs who are at the forefront of the Australian collective imagination.”

Carriageworks CEO Blair French said: “We feel privileged to have been able to provide Thea, one of our Clothing Store resident artists, a place to explore and develop her artistic practice, bringing to life the story of her great-grandmother and Arrernte elder Hetty Perkins. We look forward to welcoming audiences to Carriageworks to experience this incredible commissioned work.

Curated by Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley, Stockwoman is open free to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

Bloomberg is a Major Partner of Carriageworks and proudly supports the 2023 First Nations Program. The support builds on Bloomberg’s broader work around Reconciliation in Australia to support and actively progress efforts to create an Australia that is fair, equal, and values the communities, histories and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


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