Drawing explores family links

By Ashlea Witoslawski

The Drawing Wall at Shepparton Art Museum was decorated with a new piece of art this week thanks to a visit from interdisciplinary artist Steven Rhall.

Mr Rhall began the piece on Wednesday afternoon, first marking out the words ‘AT THIS SITE’.

Once painted, the letters will be barely visible with the use of gloss white paint on a flat white, almost grey finished background.

Mr Rhall said when he was first asked to take part in the project he immediately thought of his own family connection to the local area.

‘‘My mother was born on the banks of the Goulburn River in Mooroopna,’’ Mr Rhall said.

‘‘I think my mum’s familial history has strengthened this relationship with Shepparton over the years.’’

Mr Rhall said he also spent time living in Shepparton during the 1980s after his mother returned to be with family.

‘‘From a first nations perspective, our cultural heritage is not specifically connected to this place but I guess through the displacement of all different mobs, people were transient and my understanding is that Mum’s mum ended up here to work in the local industry.’’

Mr Rhall said his new piece at SAM, ‘‘is very much centred by this geographical place and its associated history’’.

The overstated large-scale text is designed to be subtle yet ominous and looming, encouraging the viewer to think more deeply about the subject.

Mr Rhall hopes that people will notice the choice of words and their presentation, understanding that intersections between Aboriginal and colonial cultural histories, perspectives and narratives are not always apparent.

The work is designed to reflect Australia’s history, the absence of Aboriginal voice, lived experiences and the ongoing presence of the past in Shepparton, at this site.

SAM indigenous community engagement officer Belinda Briggs said Mr Rhall’s visit began with a trip to Kaiela Arts, where he met a number of local artists for an informal lunch.

She was delighted to have Mr Rhall take part in the Drawing Wall at SAM.

‘‘This piece is really encouraging important discussion and insights in our local community,’’ Ms Briggs said.

‘‘It’s giving rise to the power of art and the sorts of conversations that can come with it.’’

Ms Briggs said she hoped to invite Mr Rhall back to Shepparton in the near future for another public engagement opportunity.

Mr Rhall’s artwork is now complete and can be viewed at the SAM Drawing Wall, beside the Riverlinks ticket box window at 70 Welsford St, Shepparton. To learn more about Mr Rhall’s art, visit