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Exhibition Recreating Our Heritage Environment

26 Mar 2013

A sense of magic…that's the inspiration for a new art installation project capturing the essence of our environment by Camberwell artist, Dr. Colleen Morris.

Titled Riverine Lakes -Trails of Water, the project features two one metre perspex transparent pillars filled with a diverse range of environmental artefacts including red gum chips, a variety of different coloured sands and pigment fabrics designed to recreate the World Heritage listed Willandra Lakes System as part of the Murray Darling Basin Palimpsest.

The artefacts are arranged 'geologically' and the pillars are sealed at the top. On both sides of the pillars are two smaller open cylinders with water and sand. As the water level reduces, there are subtle colour changes.

The project was installed at Lake Mungo, 120 km north-west of Mildura in NSW and is located within the Willandra Lakes System. It was created by Colleen for the Mungo Festival 2006-07 and represents both the archaeological, Aboriginal and geological history of the site.

Four large digital prints of the project, about one square metre, will form part of a new exhibition called Oriel Windows with approximately 40-60 artworks by more than 20 visual arts staff at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) where Colleen is Head of the Visual Arts Department.

A passionate environmentalist all her life, Colleen grew up near the Murray River and said her artworks were part of her identity and links with the environment.

'The environment of the Murray River has been an overt continuum in my art of the past ten years and is part of an ecological system that has become part of who I am,' Colleen said.

'As the Willandra Lakes System is now a world heritage listed site it is not allowed to be touched so I had to bring in things to create my installation project.

'The installation project was mounted on a timber boardwalk as a metaphor for the waters and the land. Nearby, I also mounted another project consisting of two fish traps like the ancient Aboriginal traps. These traps are threaded with different coloured ribbons - pale blues, greens and greys, and when the ribbons blow in the wind, they appear as rippling water.'

The Mungo Festival, staged last year in September-October, aimed to link art and science and inspire people with a sense of history as well as magic.

'I hope the exhibition at NMIT inspires people with that same sense of magic,' Colleen said.

'The digital prints are an essence of our environment that are there for people to contemplate.'

The exhibition opens at the A Space Gallery at NMIT's Preston campus, 77-91 St Georges Rd, on 8 March and runs until 23 March.

Gallery hours 11am-3pm.

Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on 03 9269 1579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) – Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne’s north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce.  NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.