Tommy McRae, a traditionally raised First Nations man, lived and worked in this region with his wife and family. He became a well-recognised artist in his time, with his highly-regarded works held at museums, libraries and galleries around Australia.
Stage 1, a replica of one of Tommy’s drawings of family, was cut out of stainless steel by Benjamin Gilbert – Agency of Sculpture, Yackandandah, & was installed at the Lake King wetlands mid 2021. His family – great, great granddaughter, Jean Morgan, grandchildren, aunts and cousins were proud to endorse this tribute, and attended the opening. Jean spoke of her mixed and bittersweet feelings: both honoured by Tommy’s recognition but saddened by the dysfunction and knowledge lost to the family with stolen generations.
The work and accompanying storyboard were funded by community donations and can be viewed from the Rotary ‘deck’ thanks to the local Men’s Shed crew who jumped in to install the sign.
The Stage 2 site is adjacent to the Rotary deck and Stage 1 storyboard, and will need rock-moving equipment for its installation.
The piece is by Waradgerie sculptor Lorraine Connelly-Northey, who works with discarded European Settler’s materials. It is ready to install and is her tribute to Tommy McRae (Yackadun) as as a First Nations Elder, a provider for his family and a custodian of Country and culture. Her work, like his, will invite us to imagine the traditional lifestyle of First Nations people and to connect with how the tribute family would have lived.
So, once the surrounds are dry enough, the final piece of our tribute will be added to the existing Sculpture Trail, enhancing our connection to Place and shared history.
There is a general map in a Rutherglen booklet at the Info centre, plus the detailed “Arts Rutherglen Sculpture & Portal Trail” was recently updated.