Wurrung of the Birrarung

“The Merri Creek, also known as the ‘Merri Merri’ Creek, means ‘very rocky’ in Woi wurrung, the original language of this Country. The river we now call the Yarra is known traditionally as ‘Birrarung’, ‘river of mists and shadows’. Wurundjeriwillam and Wurundjeri Woi were the original occupants of what are now the northern and North Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Their name comes from the Aboriginal word Wurrun meaning ‘white gum tree’.”

Throughout her artistic career Emma Stuart has painted the places she has chosen to live and immerse herself in. Following an extended period of time based in Europe Stuart returned to Australia in 2014 with a renewed affinity and desire to reconnect to the unique landscape of this part of the World, without hesitation she left behind the major City centres of Melbourne and Berlin and moved to the remoteness of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in the Northern Territory. During the next 5 years Stuart’s focus became Arrernte Country and the unique environment of Australia’s Red Centre creating sublime series of works of the Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges) and the landscape of that area.

Returning to Melbourne in late 2019, Stuart has been residing in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs studying the Merri creek and Birrarung lands, its rivers and its Wurrung (Trees). The areas we know today as Moreland and Yarra were for tens of thousands of years, a sparsely wooded forest with native grasslands that was governed by the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung people. With this new series to be exhibited outdoors on the banks of one of the rivers that inspired this new selection of works, the Wurrung of the Birrarung exhibition is a set to be a special presentation as well as a chance to find the same curiosity and connection that Stuart’s work explored in Central Australia in an urban enclave of beautiful Australian bush within our metropolis, half hiding and half inviting us to see it with the wonder imbued in Stuart’s painting.