Opening of the Winton Wetlands sculpture walk celebrating Yorta Yorta artists

A new sculpture walk has been unveiled at Winton Wetlands showcasing the work of Yorta Yorta artists.

The Lotjpatj Natjan Danak, which means thread and gathering path to the sculptures, presents 14 works by Yorta Yorta artists who represent special places, totems, cultural practices and stories.

The facility, which was a collaboration between Winton Wetlands and the Yorta Yorta community, took years to prepare after receiving state government funding, but was delayed by the pandemic.

Winton Wetlands chief executive Sue Lebish said the group was delighted the walk was open to the public.

“This collaboration has been extremely important because it’s their land, we want them to come back and enjoy it and show everyone the interpretation they have of this land,” she said.

A mix of cultural and artistic expression

The Yorta Yorta Nations Aboriginal Corporation representative for the project, Sonia Cooper, said it was exciting to see the project come to fruition.

“With the support of the Yorta Yorta community and in particular the artists and their families, this has happened, not only as a collaboration with the installation, but ensuring that we bring the ideas of the artist and their cultural expressions and their artistic expression in the sculptures,” she says.

The sculpture walk took years to prepare after the pandemic delayed construction.(ABC Shepparton: Courtney Howe)

The path around the sculptures has been laid out in the form of a long-necked turtle, which is the totem of the Yorta Yorta people.

“The turtle is an indicator of the health of the wetlands and the health of the rivers, if you don’t see the turtle moving or moving you must think something is going on,” Ms Cooper said.

A sculpture of three kangaroos
Joey Beckhurst’s work Walkabout Family is about the affairs of men and women around Lake Mokoan. (ABC Shepparton: Courtney Howe)

She said it was great to see the diversity of cultural expression through the artwork and that people could make their own connections to the area.

“Although we have cultural expression, there is also an element of contemporary works in some of the artworks, but it is related to traditional cultural expression.

“Some are about creating a country, it’s about totemic species, it’s about how this artist connects as an individual to the country.”

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