Echidna Quills have been used by First Peoples for body adornment for thousands of generations.
Maree Clarke is a Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta/Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba woman originally from Mildura north-east Victoria. Her work as an artist is multidisciplinary, and includes jewellery-making, photography, painting and sculpture. Maree's working life as an artist has seen her develop as a pivotal figure in the reclamation of south-east Australian Aboriginal art practices and as a leader in nurturing and promoting the diversity of contemporary south-east Aboriginal artists.
'I collect materials from places I have a blood connection to. Whether for the skin of a Carpet Snake or the feathers of a black cockatoo, I need to go up-country to get the material. When I visit country, the places I go to I always have a connection to otherwise they have no relevance. I am always thinking about country and family with every painting that I do. I also gather and use a lot of natural material, such as gum nuts, bottlebrush, acacia and any other natural material I can find. I also combine natural fibres, such as string and sinew, to make some of my sculptural pieces. In my jewellery designs I combine a lot of natural things. Most of my work is based on collaborative practice because the significance of passing on cultural knowledge is important to me. The practice of sharing knowledge and working collaboratively is an inherent part of how I work. I like my family to be around when I'm working so that I can pass that knowledge on.' Maree Clarke, 2009

Local Name


Physical Description

Necklace of thirty-two echidna quills, interspersed with small calyxes for half of the pattern, other half of pattern consists of calyxes strung in sequence. Strung on nylon line.


Maree is a highly respected artist and curator and her championing of contemporary south-east Australian Aboriginal art and culture was beautifully demonstrated in 1996 with her co-curated show We Iri We Homeborn. Showcasing the biggest collection of south-east Australian Aboriginal artworks ever to be shown in one exhibition, We Iri We Homeborn put south-eastern Aboriginal art in the spotlight. This exhibition began a wave of recognition of Koori artists and their distinctive style, acting as a contestation of the popular misconception that 'real' Aboriginal people and art can only be found in the more remote regions of Australia.
With a career as an artist spanning over fourty years, Maree remains one of the key figures in the story of south-east Australian Aboriginal art and the practice of cultural reclamation. The capacity for art to reconnect people with their cultural heritage remains central to Maree's philosophy. She believes in the power of art to heal and to inspire people to positively identify with their Aboriginality. Her interest in exploring her family designs and markings, and the totems connected with the Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti, Wemba Wemba and Boon Wurrung groups, has been increasingly revealed through her work.

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