12 December 2018: If you’ve happened to go for a stroll around the University of Canberra’s Bruce Campus lately, you may have noticed a new addition outside Building 1.
Amid the trees and native shrubs sits the sculpture, Second Skin, by Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens. In Karla’s own words Second Skin represents a warrior that finds peaceful moments and sits in reflection. She is digging up courage and raw nerve, licking wounds, to rise once more to fight the next round. Beaten and bruised, she shines.
The sculpture is currently on a three-month loan to the University from the artist and was recently displayed as part of the Foreshore Sculpture Project at Lake Burley Griffin.
According to Karla, she remarks upon her formative years as a 'double dawn for Aboriginal people', with the referendum that provided Aboriginal peoples with status. It was a time of self-discovery which had a strong influence on her creative talents.
Karla has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia (2017); The National 2017: New Australian Art, Carriageworks, Sydney, and Grounded: Contemporary Australian Art at the National Art School Gallery, Sydney (2017).
Professor Peter Radoll, Dean Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy, said having the artwork displayed on the University’s grounds plays an important part in helping staff and students understand the role Indigenous art plays in Australia today.
“The Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership & Strategy (OATSILS) has made significant progress to encourage an understanding of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures at UC and create a culturally welcoming campus,” Professor Radoll said.
“Whilst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures are connected to a history spanning at least 60,000 years, First Nations Peoples contemporary art has an important role within the University of Canberra today.
“Karla’s sculpture provides a wonderful example of this and serves as an opportunity for staff and students to experience the depth of breath of Australia’s Indigenous diversity.”
The University of Canberra has been looking for a prominent Indigenous work of art for the location outside Building 1 for almost a year, and Second Skin could soon become a permanent fixture.
While UC has a good representation of Indigenous artworks, the University has been looking to strengthen this, with something prominent that helps tie the University to the Indigenous cultures.
Feedback about the sculpture is currently being considered and the University is encouraging everyone to get in touch. Thoughts can be sent to the Art Collection Coordinator, Alex Stalker-Booth via Alex.Stalker-Booth@canberra.edu.au.