Indigenous Arts Project: Paola Balla
1 May 2003 -
Artist(s): Paola Balla
Location: FJ Davies Reserve (Centreway) Keilor East
Born of a shared desire for reconciliation and to embed a First Nations perspective into FJ Davies (Centreway) Reserve, located on Wurundjeri
Woi-wurrung Country, this artwork brought together local primary school children to create the joyful drawings that have been incorporated into each of the bronze pieces.
In 2023, Paola reflected on the project, “I was doing community arts work at the Gathering Space, a former Aboriginal community centre based at the Maribyrnong Library at Highpoint Shopping Centre, where I was running projects with Aboriginal communities living and working in the western suburbs. I was put into contact with the Centreway Traders Group and Council to work with young migrant kids and share my Aboriginal sense of belonging to Country with them. I helped them identify local Indigenous plants and to get to know the Traditional Owners of the place they call home. I wanted to teach them to care for Country, while bringing their own sense of identity, belonging and purpose to this place.”
Dr Paola Balla is an award-winning visual artist, academic, highly commended curator and sought- after community cultural development practitioner, speaker, facilitator and writer. Her practice led research situates the ways Aboriginal women artists & activists disrupt artistic terra nullius by speaking back and ‘blak’ to patriarchal and colonial narratives. She is a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman who has proudly been teaching with Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Centre, Victoria University since 2001 after graduating from the Bachelor of Education- Nyerna Studies degree (2001). Paola continued post graduate study at the VCA University of Melbourne with a Post Graduate Diploma in Community Cultural Development Praxis and a Masters in Community Cultural Development Praxis. Paola returned to VU and Moondani Balluk to undertake her PhD as a Lisa Bellear Indigenous Research scholarship recipient. Her doctorate was awarded in 2021.