Marnda Grik means large spider in Woiwurrung. Marnda Grik is a weaver of story, history and Country. She embodies the matriarchs of our past. In this new body of work, Blackgin explores her relationship with Marnda Grik. For most of her life Blackgin has struggled with debilitating arachnophobia. With paper bark being her preferred medium to create art work, Blackgin has often struggled with using what is a natural habitat of the Huntsmen spider. Blackgin’s arachnophobia has led to her querying whether arachnophobia is a colonial concept that has created a disconnect between her and her country?
In western narratives spiders are often depicted as female, including Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, Shelob the demon spider in the Lord of the Rings and the weaver Arachne who challenged Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and crafts. Spiders are acknowledged as weavers and are unique in their abilities to create one off works of art in nature.
French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is famous for creating multiple large scale public art sculptures of spiders, partly referencing her mother the tapestry weaver. To some extent Blackgin is inspired and even envious of Bourgeois’ personal and quite loving relationship with spiders, which has been a source of influence on Blackgin’s desire to repair the colonial disconnect she has with them.
Marnda Grik is based on the notion of recognising the important role spiders play in nature and their cultural significance as a part of Country. Through creating works that honour Marnda Grik, Blackgin aims to challenge those colonial notions and repair her spiritual relationship with this ancient matriarch, as well as inviting viewers into the space of Marnda Grik to also pay homage.
Blackgin is a Wurundjeri artist living in the Central Goldfields. With a focus on exploring themes around her matriarchal lineage and notions of feminism, Blackgin engages with materials that connect her to her cultural heritage through traditional uses. Blackgin is particularly known for her work using paperbark. While historically paper bark has been used as housing, bandaging, cooking and a range of other activities, Blackgin is drawn to its flesh like qualities and the way that its textures and colours draw the eye.
Installation view, photo credit: Christian Capurro