Australian fashion brand Country Road has partnered with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) to launch Country Road + NGV First Nations Commission - the first and only initiative of its kind in Australia.
The commission is a biennial mentorship and exhibition program that pairs emerging Australian First Nations artists and designers with one of eight industry mentors from each of the eight Australian states and territories.
The eight mentors each nominated an emerging artist for the Commission opportunity, which includes guidance through the conception, development and creation of a major work.
The nominated artists represent a diverse range of artistic and creative disciplines, including weaving, textiles, installation and painting.
Responding to the theme of ‘My Country’, these new works will be unveiled in March 2024 in a major exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, coinciding with Country Road’s 50th anniversary.
It is the first partnership between NGV and Country Road and builds upon existing initiatives including Coutnry Road’s partnerships with Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation and the NGV’s Indigenous Fashion Commission.
“This program presents an incredible opportunity to further our work in supporting First Nations communities, in a first-of-its-kind partnership that is led by First Nations artists,” Country Road managing director Elle Roseby said. “We’re thrilled to be working together with the NGV to platform inspiring creatives across the country, while celebrating their stories and increasing the recognition of First Nations cultures, histories and knowledge.”
NGV senior curator of Australian and First Nations art, Myles Russell-Cook said initiatives like this are vital.
“For many First Nations people, the concept of intergenerational knowledge transfer is at the heart of how we live our lives,” Russell-Cook said. “For artists, mentoring is a way of giving back.
“Mentorship is something that motivates us; it is about respecting the knowledge of those who have come before us, and making space for those who will come afterwards.”
NGV director Tony Ellwood the unique mentorship format offers “career-defining opportunity” to emerging First Nations artists.
“We’re grateful for the support of Country Road for this important new initiative,” Ellwood said. “This mentorship program has enabled NGV to cultivate important new relationships with First Nations practitioners across the country.
“With the eight works entering the NGV Collection, this commission will enhance our ability to represent and profile our rich and diverse Indigenous communities.”
The inaugural recipients of the Country Road + NGV First Nations Commissions are:
Pedro Wonaeamirri (Mentor) and Johnathon World Peace Bush (NT)
Tony Albert (Mentor) and Warraba Weatherall (QLD)
Maree Clarke (Mentor) and Mitch Mahoney (VIC)
Peggy Griffiths (Mentor) and Jan Griffiths (WA)
Jonathan Jones (Mentor) and Sophie Honess (NSW)
Vincent Namatjira OAM (Mentor) and Alec Baker and Eric Barney (SA)
Denise Robinson (Mentor) and Cheryl Rose (TAS)
James Tylor (Mentor) and Aidan Hartshorn (ACT)