If you’re able to walk Bendigo’s beautiful streets this lockdown, be sure to stop by the Rosalind Park Plaza. This prominent pocket on Charing Cross has hosted many creative highlights for Bendigo; a larger-than-life Marilyn Monroe, a mirror maze, a tram cafe, and now, the work of La Trobe Creative Arts student Helena Read.
A City of Greater Bendigo grant has given the third-year Bendigo student a rare opportunity to exhibit her work in the city’s heart. Which is appropriate, given the theme of the collaborative exhibition.
Helena, a British migrant artist, has teamed up with local Indigenous artist Aunty Maryline Nicholls to present the show Hearts of Gold.
Grounded in the traditions of their respective cultures and families, their work combines weaving, printmaking and sculpture to “explore the complex and problematic local histories of gold mining and genocide”.
“As students there are rare chances for us to show our work outside of the university setting or beyond our peer group,” Helena says.
“The Love your Local Creatives grant from the City of Greater Bendigo has enabled me to step up and embrace a body of work that is larger and more comprehensive than an unfunded practice.
“It has facilitated the collaborative practice with Aunty Marilyne Nicholls to deepen my research and ensure that the final product is culturally respectful.
“Aunty Marilyne and I shared concerns that our work may be confronting for the Bendigo community, however we have received extremely positive feedback about the exhibition, which is rewarding and encouraging at the outset of my artistic career.”
Helena is in her final year of fulfilling a long-time goal to study art.
“I left school at 16 and had long promised myself that if I had to take another career change, I would go to uni as a mature age student,” she says.
“I love creative arts and realised that studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts would be a great opportunity to combine study with my passion, while having some fun along the way.”
Helena says the course has deepened her practice considerably. “And it continues to inspire my courage to address often challenging social topics such as Australia’s history of genocide, extinction rates and equality in women’s health.”
See Hearts of Gold in the Rosalind Park Plaza at Charing Cross until June 10.