Linear Artists: Vicki West

I am a proud Pakana and Trawlwoolway woman, mother, grandmother, artist from Tebrakunna Country in north-east Tasmania.

I use kelp as a metaphor for survival. Traditionally, it was used to make water carriers, playing an essential role in the lives of the old people of Tasmania, as a part of their everyday toolkit. I have used the jackie vine as a metaphor for unwelcome pests in our own environment, as it’s a native plant but is often considered a pest.

My work is influenced by history and the historical ideology that we don’t exist. That Truganini was the last of our people, supposedly. I dispute this using my arts practice to reiterate that ‘we are still here’.

Vestra is a body of work created for my grandson, shortly after his birth, and explores the idea of protecting, sharing and maintaining culture, each of the nine pods containing personal and cultural material and knowledge for him to discover.

Milaythina takila is a celebration of the continuance of culture. Exploring notions of resilience and the importance of intergenerational practices for sharing of culture and cultural knowledge.

The 143 woven circles reference the years since the passing of Truganini. Many historical and current-day people believe that the Tasmanian Aboriginal people became extinct upon her death in 1876. The government of the day proclaimed she was the last full-blood Tasmanian Aborigine, hence evolved the prevailing myth of extinction.

Peeling back the physical and psychological layers built up over time allows us to find an indexed truth often hidden by social and political agendas. These works invite the viewer to explore that which is below the surface and that which contributes collectively to the formation of the present day.