Art has power to move

Artist Paola Balla is in the running for a Victorian Indigenous Art Award. 55972 Picture: DAMJAN JANEVSKIArtist Paola Balla is in the running for a Victorian Indigenous Art Award. 55972 Picture: DAMJAN JANEVSKI

By CHARLENE GATT
WEST Footscray artist Paola Balla has been shortlisted for a Victorian Indigenous Art Award.
Ms Balla is one of 20 artists in the running for more than $50,000 in prizes, with awards announced at an exhibition at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs next month.
She was shortlisted for two pieces – a photo called Kaden Boy, and a photo and video called Sacred Ibis.
Kaden Boy is a piece that is especially close to Ms Balla’s heart. The picture is an iPhone photo she took of her son a couple of years ago.
“He was six at the time and it was after my uncle had passed away, so it was a bit of a sad time and we were in Heathcote and he was just walking along and his shadow fell against a wall and in the shadow he appears to be a young Aboriginal warrior, and my shadow was falling onto a tree.
“It was a really interesting photograph … it’s a really simple picture, but it seems to have other things in it. The shadows are transformed into something else.”
Sacred Ibis was based on a dead Sacred Ibis bird she found on a walk around Newport Lakes.
“I was kind of alarmed that no-one seemed to notice it.
“I thought it was really interesting and saw it as a bit of a metaphor for when things happen in life, particularly to Indigenous people, that sometimes people don’t always notice, or seem to be indifferent to it.”
This is the third year in a row she has been nominated. Last year, Ms Balla won one of the categories for her sculpture A Little Birdy Told Me.
Ms Balla grew up drawing and painting and said most of her work was inspired by the Aboriginal side of her family.
She recently took up a new position as curator of the Indigenous Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum.
Seddon artist Brian Martin was also nominated for two of his works – Methexical Countryscape: Wurundjeri #2 and Methexical Countryside: Wiradjuri #2

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