Cultural and creative life

Aboriginal women illuminate the Australian Museum

Artwork explored the concept of place, personal histories and community connections

born in darkness before dawn by Nicole Foreshew

Projections of a striking Aboriginal woman adorn the Australian Museum façade. The arresting, slow-moving images were created by Sydney-based Wiradjuri artist Nicole Foreshew.

The work was called born in the darkness before dawn (2013). “The (images) explore the Aboriginal concept of place, tracing personal histories and connections to various communities in NSW,” said Foreshew.

Wrapped in the cloth imbued with traces of minerals and plant materials, the woman in the projections is a friend of the artist. The artist said that bodies in the work relate the absence of place. The dyed ‘cloth’ from bark and leaves found in gutters, water drains and at the bottom of trees, references the remains of fossils and prehistoric living things.

Foreshew’s grandfather is a traditional owner of Peak Hill in the Wiradjuri lands of central NSW. The artist felt it was important for her work to illuminate the wall of the Australian Museum because it has such a rich collection of Aboriginal artefacts. Some of these came from the areas where Nicole’s mum and grandfather were born, with 11 objects including 1 carved tree.

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The projections were the 2nd public art project for the Eora Journey: Recognition in the Public Domain program. Curated by Hetti Perkins, it celebrates the living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Published 22 November 2013, updated 29 November 2023