Artists statement

“The sweet-smelling chocolate lily is a favourite of mine. It has a scent similar to that of chocolate and can be eaten raw and added to other foods as a decoration on top of cakes. I like it because it is a pretty little plant that you can’t walk by without noticing. The cabbage butterflies are ancestral spirits watching.”
— Deanne Gilson

In 'Karrap Karrap Beenyak — Flower Baskets of Knowledge', Deanne Gilson depicts dilly bags and baskets drawn from the South Eastern collection of artefacts held within the Melbourne Museum, and gifts from family and friends. They reclaim cultural knowledge, mixing tradition with the lived experiences of her ancestors and re-enriching her life with culture, Country and connection, through the creation of new art. The works highlight the use of Indigenous plants for healing and bush foods, and the Wadawurrung Creation Story and connection to Dja (Country).

Dr Deanne Gilson is a proud Wadawurrung woman and an award-winning visual artist living and creating from her ancestral home of Ballarat in Victoria. Her multidisciplinary art practice interrogates the colonial disruption of her family and explores ways in which contemporary art can create a platform towards healing, acceptance and reclaiming cultural identity, often drawing upon traditional knowledges of her ancestors.

The Victorian bush where Gilson grew up features predominantly in all of her paintings, alongside many Indigenous plants, trees and birds from her Creation Story. Gilson draws upon layers of tangible and intangible knowledge, she talks about the presence of the intangible as spiritual connections to Country and her ancestors, while the tangible knowledge reflects artefacts and other objects of daily Wadawurrung life. Her works portray a rich cultural history that continues to thrive and grow today despite the restrictions placed on her family by settlement. Gilson’s practice defines Aboriginal women’s business past and present through contemporary art. Traditional marks alongside contemporary marks, link her to the practices of Indigenous mark-making, especially that on her body when in ceremony. Stating that “all of my artworks are an extension of my women’s business and draw on ochre sourced from Wadawurrung Dja (Country)”. The white is used in traditional ceremonies, while the charcoal is a direct link to Gilson’s matriarchal line of her mother’s business. Gilson’s mother, Marlene Gilson, also an artist, gathers charcoal from her daily fire, passing this onto her daughter, extending upon the old and the new ways of sharing knowledge and connection to Country.

Physical description


Mounting & framing

Framed in black sustainable Vic ash