Kait James—Souvenirs (Wall commission #1)
As a proud Wadawurrung woman, Kait James’s work poses questions relating to identity, perception, and our knowledge of Australia’s Indigenous communities. Using the craft technique of punch needling, she embroiders found materials now considered kitsch through their outdated representations of Indigenous people and culture. The works featured in Souvenirs are based on Aboriginal calendar tea towels from the 1970s and ’80s that generalise and stereotype her culture: she subverts these representations with the addition of familiar pop-cultural references, and imagery relating to indigenous issues relevant to the tea towel’s calendar year, as well as to the present day.
Through the use of humour and vibrant colours, James addresses the way colonial culture has dominated Australia’s history, how Australia and the world perceives our First Nations’ people and her personal reflections on her Indigenous heritage.