This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Maree Clarke's 'Thung-ung Coorang' Jewellery

Indigenous Art

Pioneering technology meets re-purposed road kill… have we got your attention?!

We hope so, because you’re going to want to know more about Maree Clarke. The innovative artist and designer has just launched an exclusive collection with NGV’s design store, and today takes us through her unique jewellery, as well as her wide-reaching cultural preservation work.

We’re also thrilled to introduce you to our new writer Eugenia Flynn, who interviewed Maree and penned this wonderful feature. Based in Melbourne, Eugenia is a Tiwi, Larrakiah, Chinese and Muslim woman. She currently works as a writer, artist manager and organiser with community organisations.

22nd March, 2018

Artist and design Maree Clarke has a new jewellery collection Thung-ung Coorang (Kangaroo teeth necklace) at the NGV design store. Photo – Ben Swinnerton.

Maree uses the teeth, alongside echidna quills and crow feathers that she also collects, in her collections of neck pieces, headbands and cloaks. Photo – Ben Swinnerton.

Maree is a Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta and Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba woman, from Mildura, Victoria. Photo – Eugene Hyland.

Maree’s Thung-ung Coorang (Kangaroo teeth necklace). Photo – Eugene Hyland.

Maree’s latest neckpieces feature gold plating, supersizing and 3D-printed forms alongside the teeth, quills and feathers. Photo – Ben Swinnerton.

A box of echidna quills in Maree’s studio. Photo – Eugene Hyland.

Collected roadkill forms the basis of Maree’s kangaroo teeth creations. Photo – Eugene Hyland.

The artist and designer with her new range for NGV! Photo – Ben Swinnerton.

Eugenia Flynn
Thursday 22nd March 2018

‘That’s what my practice is all about, it’s not about me, it’s about passing it all on.’ – Maree Clarke.

Maree Clarke travels home to Mildura – a large town in Victoria’s oft-forgotten north-west – regularly by car, stopping whenever she can along the way. Here, by the side of the road, she pulls teeth from the various dead kangaroos that adorn the highway, the immediate reality of Maree’s practice a striking contrast to the definitive design of her final creations.

Maree uses the teeth, alongside echidna quills and crow feathers that she also collects, in her carefully crafted neck pieces, headbands and cloaks. Most recently she has begun to combine organic materials with new and different technologies, exploring the ‘relationship between modernity and the past’; her latest neckpieces feature gold plating, supersizing and 3D-printed forms, alongside the teeth, quills and feathers.

Meditation on the relationship between tradition and modernity is a central element of Maree’s oeuvre. Her cultural practice as a Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta and Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba woman is enhanced by new technologies, ensuring that her practice is contemporary and current, and the next step in the continuum that is the oldest living culture in the world.

‘That’s what my practice is all about, it’s not about me, it’s about passing it all on,’ says Maree, clear and articulate about her life’s work. She wants to ensure that traditional cultural practices, used to create adornments and clothing, continue as contemporary culture.

She takes her nieces and nephews along with her for the long drive home, sharing her art with them. Through her work with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, she inspires other young people to take up art and cultural practice for themselves. Maree tells them, ‘you can take anything from this and make it your own.’

Maree’s legacy is apparent in the changing nature of the national Indigenous arts sector. Over the last 30 years, she has seen south-eastern Aboriginal arts come to the fore, and has had a strong hand in ensuring this visibility. In the late 1980s, she instigated support for local Aboriginal arts in Mildura; she is also credited as one of a handful of cultural practitioners pivotal in the reclamation and maintenance of local Koorie cultural practices.

Importantly, Maree has been central to bringing south-east Aboriginal arts to prominence within the national arts sector. In the mid-1990s, she mounted several initiatives that gave the likes of Reko Rennie and Bindi Cole some of their first shows, and in speaking about the work of fellow south-east Aboriginal artists and cultural practitioners her passion is evident: ‘[a lot of our art is] based on traditional designs from our own areas…[in the beginning] I saw the markings on our shields – it gave me goosebumps.’

Maree Clarke’s photographic works are currently on display as part of Colony: Frontier Wars, one of two exhibitions exploring Australia’s colonial history alongside Colony: Australia 1770 – 1861 at NGV Australia, Federation Square.

Clarke’s new jewellery collection Thung-ung Coorang (Kangaroo teeth necklace) is available in 3D-printed form exclusively at the NGV design store at NGV International and NGV Australia.

A special thank you to Hannah Presley for connecting us with Eugenia Flynn, and several other amazing writers who will be contributing to this column over the coming months.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Creative People

Margaret Rarru · 'Black is Beautiful'

Profiling the Madonna-loving artist creating incredible, contemporary manifestations of an enduring weaving practice.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti

Indigenous Art

Koskela x Erub Erwer Meta Christmas Wreaths

The Sydney-based furniture, design and lifestyle brand joins with Indigenous artists from the Torres Strait to repurpose ocean trash into fe...
Elle Murrell

Indigenous Art

Shirley Macnamara, Weaver and Cattle Drover

An award-winning creative, weaving with Spinifex sourced from her own thriving cattle property near Mount Isa.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti

This Week

Art

Paul Maher’s Paintings Dwell On The Fringes Of Urban Wilderness

The Newcastle artist paints calm, reflective scenes of life on the edge of human habitats, for his second solo exhibition at Saint Cloche.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

An 'Upside Down' Family Home Floating Among The Treetops

A tired 1980s residence in Sydney has been transformed into a serene family home, at the hands of Nobbs Radford Architects.
Sasha Gattermayr

Giveaway

Sounds Like Home - WIN The Ultimate Home Sound System From Sonos!

To get you through winter we’ve teamed up with Sonos, with a huge prize worth $2936 – Including Sonos' new premium new soundbar, Arc!

Art

This Sculpture Collaboration Is A Match Made In Heaven!

Artist Kate Florence and sculptor Lucas Wearne of Neighbourhood Studio collaborate on a collection of hand-painted, one-off sculptures.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Major European Designer Furniture On Sale Right Now At DOMO!

Craving a home spruce? DOMO has got you covered with up to 70% off selected furniture + homewares collections.
Sponsored

Architecture

An Extraordinary Transformation For This Heritage Sandstone Home

A dilapidated 1870's home in Sydney's Balmain East is restored and extended, with a new concrete addition by Benn + Penna Architecture.
Amelia Barnes
  8 hours ago

Architecture

A Voluminous, Contemporary Home Behind A Modest Heritage Facade

A heritage weatherboard is extended and transformed by Tecture, future proofing this home for a family of six.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Contemporary Farmhouse In Suburban Melbourne!

MRTN Architects design a farmhouse suitable for suburbia in Melbourne's Fairfield!

News

A Free Virtual Art Fair Is Coming!

Melbourne Art Fair unveils a digital program of free exhibitions, studio tours + panel events!
Sponsored

Shopping

Krof Cutlery Brings The Elegance Of Fine Dining To Your Home

A design expert and restaurateur join forces to launch a sleek, high-quality Australian cutlery brand.
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

A Waterfront Home In Sydney That Defines 'Approachable Luxury'

The 1880s sandstone home of interior designer Linda Habak and family in Hunters Hill, faithfully extended by Campbell Architecture.

Architecture

A Home Purpose Built For A Woman And Her Cat!

A heritage cottage in Fitzroy North carefully restored and renovated by Atlas Architects.
Sasha Gattermayr

On The Market

An Interior Designer’s 1930s South Yarra Home Is Up For Sale!

One of South Yarra’s tightly held 1930s homes has hit the market, featuring a masterful renovation by its interior designer owner.
Amelia Barnes
  16 hours ago

Gardens

A Suburban Backyard Transformed Into A Lush Garden Retreat

Mud Office complements a modern Ivanhoe extension with this magnificent green retreat!
Sasha Gattermayr

Times Like These

Times Like These... With TDF Editor-In-Chief Lucy Feagins

Our very own founder and editor shares some of the ups and downs of the last few months.

Similar Stories

Creative People

Margaret Rarru · 'Black is Beautiful'

Profiling the Madonna-loving artist creating incredible woven bags and garments.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti

Indigenous Art

Koskela x Erub Erwer Meta Christmas Wreaths

The Sydney-based furniture, design and lifestyle brand joins with Indigenous artists from the Torres Strait to repurpose ocean trash into fe...
Elle Murrell

Indigenous Art

Shirley Macnamara, Weaver and Cattle Drover

An award-winning creative, weaving with Spinifex sourced from her own thriving cattle property near Mount Isa.
Jessica Booth and Laetitia Prunetti