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Sonja Carmichael & Elisa Jane Carmichael | TarraWarra Biennial 2023

March 29, 2023

Opening Saturday 1 April 2023 at the at the TarraWarra Museum of Art is the TarraWarra Biennial 2023, featuring Sonja Carmichael and Elisa Jane Carmichael.

The biennial showcases the Carmichael’s collaborative work Ngumpi (Home), 2022-23, which holds the essence of their connections to Ancestors and Quandamooka Country.

Inspired by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Aunty Kath Walker – Quandamooka woman, poet, artist, and educator) and her story of Talwalpin and Kowinka, the work reflects their relationship with Quandamooka weaving, waters and plants and how these stories relate to Sonja and Elisa’s shared connections with all living things on Country.

Curator Dr Léuli Eshrāghi states:

“Over a number of studio visits over recent years to both of their homes at Mooloomba on Minjerribah and at Kurilpa in Turrbal and Yuggera Country, my heart swelled as their impressive works took shape and our long moments of sharing story grew fonder. Comprising cherished endemic ungaire, tawalpin bark, driftwood, shells, hand spun string, ghostnet, and kowinka-dyed silk and cotton fabric, Ngumpi (Home) is a generous invitation to witness the strength of Quandamooka kin constellations.”

The biennial takes its title from the Sāmoan proverb Ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili – an alagāʻupu, meaning ‘the canoe obeys the wind’. The proverb is demonstrative of Great Ocean celestial navigation practices, following centuries of European and Asian colonial occupations. These practices teach the interconnectedness of humans and islands, reefs, stars, suns, moons, currents, winds and all other beings.

Bringing this lens to the exhibition, the TarraWarra Biennial 2023 imparts to audiences the wish that humility towards living beings and storied places might generate more neighbourly exchanges and resolutely joyful futures.

TarraWarra Biennial 2023 is on show from 1 April – 16 July 2023. You are able to book tickets via

View Available Work by Elisa Jane Carmichael

View Available Work by Sonja Carmichael

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus1; and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

Lower image: Sonja Carmichael and Elisa Jane Carmichael, 2023. Photo: Louis Lim.

For collectors

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters, culture, and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.