In 2017, we established the Macquarie Group First Nations Emerging Curator Award in collaboration with the Australia Council for the Arts to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Macquarie Group Collection and mark the 50th Anniversary year of the 1967 Referendum.
The purpose of the Award is to support an inspirational First Nations emerging visual arts curator in their professional development and practice.
Freja Carmichael won the award. A Ngugi woman belonging to the Quandamooka People of Moreton Bay, Ms Carmichael has worked broadly across the Indigenous visual arts sector. In 2014, she received the Australia Council’s emerging curatorial fellowship. Since then, she has curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions including the major exhibition Gathering Strands at Redland Art Gallery in 2016.
As the recipient of the award, Ms Carmichael received $A15,000 and the opportunity to curate a new exhibition, ‘Around and within’, which she held in late 2018.
‘Around and within’ honoured the ongoing presence of ancestral ties for Aboriginal people – remaining connected to the land, waters and sky. Coinciding with the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week theme of ‘Because of her we can’, the exhibition set out to honour the many Aboriginal women whose strength and influential contributions have been unseen or unsung.
Ms Carmichael achieved this by celebrating seven Aboriginal female artists in her exhibition who carry threads of memories, emotions, wisdom and knowledge from generations in their artworks.
“The exhibition is grounded in the inspirational poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), whose words and actions called for greater equality and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and culture,” said Ms Carmichael.