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Metro Tunnel

Jenna Lee: Light of an Invasive Native

City Square, May 2021 to present

Artist Statement

Just as plants need light and air to survive and thrive, we as First Nations people need connection to our cultural and ancestral objects. Our connection and access to museum collection stores bring light to these dark hidden places and in turn breathe life and energy into the objects that lie dormant.

Light of an Invasive Native depicts the pitch black darkness of museum collection stores as well as the resulting light and energy that radiates when our botanical and cultural collections are accessed and activated. This exchange of energy between people, collection and object is made possible only when we as First Nations people and communities have agency to activate these archives – transforming them into living, breathing spaces, no longer silent but part of the continuous cycle of culture. This energy exchange also speaks to the universal connectedness between caring for Country, our plants and our cultural objects and practices. By caring for our land we have access to the plants, fibres and pigments which we transform into objects and artwork, which maintain and preserve our culture.

Light of an Invasive Native is the final iteration of an almost three-year ongoing body of work which uses images captured of a collection of Australian native gum trees in the Kew Gardens, London. While living in the UK I personally gathered fallen leaves, seeds and bark from the four giants, capturing images of their textures and tones, overcome with a need to document, to archive their resilience – their invasive survival. The images used include a giant Spinning Gum ‘collected’ in Victoria and transported to Kew, where she still stands today.

About Jenna Lee

Jenna Lee is an interdisciplinary artist of the Larrakia, Karajarri and Wardaman peoples. Her practice is strongly influenced by material, method and process as well as by her overlapping identities, paternal teachings of culture and maternal teachings of paper craft.

This work is part of Moving Objects, commissioned by RISINGMuseums Victoria and YIRRAMBOI and made possible by the Metro Tunnel Creative Program.