2021 Melbourne Art Trams: Aunty Zeta Thomson

Tuesday 28 September

Aunty Zeta Thomson’s rolling artwork, Mookies Around the Watering Hole, is one of the six Melbourne Art Trams designed exclusively by First Peoples artists in 2021.

MOOKIES AROUND THE WATERHOLE

BY AUNTY ZETA THOMSON (WURUNDJERI AND YORTA YORTA PEOPLES)

Tram Route: 5, 6, 16, 58, 72

Aunty Zeta Thomson
"Mookie means spirit in Yorta Yorta. In our culture, visitors would call out to Ancestor Mookies as they walked through the bush announcing they were coming onto Country. They would meet and gather at sacred waterholes for ceremony.” Her statement continues, “After meeting, the travellers would begin their journey across Country to the next place, ‘galyan woka ngana buraya moya’—a beautiful place far, far away. This work teaches us to respect Country and honour Ancestors."

Biography

Aunty Zeta Thomson is a respected Elder and descendant of the Yarra Yarra Clan of the Wurundjeri people through her father and grandfather, Alexander Briggs, and is a descendant of the Ulupna Clan of the Yorta Yorta people on her mother and grandmother, Teresa (Yarmuk) Clements’ side. She is a renowned artist, culture teacher and advocate for the rights of Aboriginal prisoners in Victoria. Aunty Zeta was born in 1946 to Geraldine Briggs and Selwyn Briggs. She is one of 13 children and grew up with her large family in Shepparton, Victoria. Aunty Zeta retains strong connections to her ancestral homelands.

Her parents participated in the historic Cummeragunja Walk-Off, relocating to the Shepparton-Mooroopna. Her family maintains links with Cummeragunja through the continuing use of ancestral burial grounds. Her knowledge of culture has been passed down by her mother and father and maternal grandmother. Aunty Zeta and her husband, Edward have been proudly for married 54 years. She is a mother of three children and a grandmother of ten.She has had a lifetime involvement in Aboriginal affairs, working at a community level, like many of her family members. She has supported land rights and Aboriginal rights with her family. Aunty Zeta was the first Victorian Aboriginal artist to have work exhibited at Melbourne Museum’s Bunjilaka Gallery. Her paintings are inspired by the family stories and her work showcases the Yorta Yorta creation story: “Aboriginal art is storytelling; it is inspired by old creation stories”.

2021 Melbourne Art Trams

The place now known as Melbourne is a city built on the lands of the Kulin Nation peoples; Traditional Owners who continue to maintain deep connections to their country, kin and waterways that have existed for tens of thousands of years.

In 2021, for the first time, each Melbourne Art Tram has been designed by a First Peoples artist. As a collective of moving artworks all six share with us the strength and beauty of creative cultural expression and the interwoven connections and continuous cultures of First Peoples in Victoria. Below you'll find links to the work of each contributing artist, as well as further reading on the curation and selection process undertaken by RISING:

The Aunty Zeta Thomson Collection

You can buy a tote, tee or raincoat featuring Aunty Zeta Thomson's iconic Mookie motif in the RISING Shop. A portion of sales will be donated to Aunty Zeta's nominated charity Wildlife Victoria.

SHOP NOW

IMAGES: JAMES MORGAN

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