The Lume's Next Big Multi-Sensory Exhibition 'Connection' Is Dedicated to First Nations Art and Music

This immersive walk-through experience showcasing 110-plus Indigenous talents will take over Melbourne's digital-only art gallery from late June.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 25, 2023

The idea behind The Lume was always a stunner, giving Australia its first permanent digital-only art gallery. When the Melbourne venue started welcoming in patrons in 2021, it lived up to its immersive, multi-sensory promise, initially with a spectacular Van Gogh exhibition that let visitors feel like they were walking right into the artist's work, and then with the French impressionism-focused Monet & Friends Alive. The next showcase set to grace the site's agenda has those past shows beat, however, heroing First Nations art and music. When Connection opens on Friday, June 23, it'll feature more than 110 Indigenous visual and musical artists in a dazzling fashion.

At this Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre gallery, the art gracing its walls tower over patrons, with the space filled with large-scale digital pieces. And Connection will be full thanks to more than 550 works — digitals and originals alike.

Set to feature: art by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Tommy Watson, Anna Pitjara, Lin Onus, Sarrita King, Kate Constantine, Wayne Qulliam, Clifford, Gabriella and Michelle Possum Nungurrayi, and many more, in a walk-through exhibition that'll present its pieces through the themes of land, water and sky Country. Their work will score a soundtrack by Yothu Yindi, Archie Roach, Emily Wurramara, Gurrumul, Alice Skye, Baker Boy and others, plus composers such as William Barton.

Grande Experiences, the company behind The Lume and its touring exhibitions — Van Gogh Alive made its way around Australia, and Monet in Paris is about to do the same from June — says that Connection will boast the largest representation of First Peoples art and culture ever assembled. It'll span over 3000 square metres, and its remit is just as sizeable: highlighting pieces by past and present artists, and surveying the entire country and Torres Strait. Shining a spotlight on emerging talents while showing their work alongside their inspirations is another key mission.

"The technology Connection uses breaks down a lot of barriers to entry," says Constantine, a Gadigal artist of the Eora Nation.

"A lot of people like Aboriginal art because it is colourful or pretty, but a lot of people are quite challenged by Aboriginal art too, by not knowing or understanding how to interpret it or not feeling like they have permission to be involved. Connection is just so inclusive."

"I see Connection as this beautiful collection of storytellers sharing our culture with the world the way that our ancestors have taught us to do," adds Professor Wayne Quilliam, a NAIDOC Indigenous Artist of the Year, who is contributing digital storytelling via drone, photography and art to the exhibition.

If it sounds familiar, that's because a smaller version premiered at the National Museum of Australia in 2022, with Grande Experiences joining forces with the Canberra gallery. Connection also benefits from an advisory panel featuring Constantine, Quilliam, King, Aboriginal art specialist Adam Knight, the National Museum's lead Indigenous curator and academic Margo Ngawa Neale, arts executive Rhoda Roberts AO, and designer and film producer Alison Page.

Fingers crossed that Connection takes its show on the road, too, after thoroughly wowing The Lume.

Connection opens at The Lume, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 5 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, Melbourne, on Friday, June 23 — head to the venue's website for tickets and further information.

Published on May 25, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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