Olde Worlde, New Acquisition

In a further stride toward enriching its representation of contemporary Indigenous art, Murdoch University Art Collection is proud to unveil its latest acquisition – a captivating piece by the renowned Melbourne-based artist, Kait James.

Hailing from the Wadawurrung community, Kait James navigates the intricate terrain of her dual heritage, intertwining her Anglo and Indigenous roots to create compelling works that delve into themes of identity, perception, and the rich tapestry of Australia's First Nations people and culture.

The artwork in question, aptly titled "Olde Worlde," is a testament to Kait's innovative approach, marrying traditional craft techniques with a contemporary narrative. Through the medium of punch needling, she transforms everyday materials like souvenir tea towels, laden with references to colonial settlement. With a touch of irony and humour, Kait adorns a 1980s Aboriginal calendar tea towel with words like 'Olde Worlde' and a speech bubble declaring 'Pfff…', playfully subverting the original meanings. The infusion of bright colours and bold patterns draws inspiration from the visual culture of that era, elevating the artwork into a dynamic and distinctly contemporary creation.

Kait James's artistic prowess has garnered widespread recognition on the national stage, with her recent inclusion in the prestigious 2023 Melbourne Now exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Her accolades, including the Craft Victoria’s Emerging Artist Award and the Reconciliation Award from the Koori Art Show, underscore her impact on the art scene. Kait's artistry has reached new heights as a finalist in esteemed competitions such as the Churchie National Emerging Artist Award, the King Wood Mallesons Art Prize, and the Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award.

Her artistic footprint extends across renowned institutions, with Kait's works finding a home in collections at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Geelong Gallery, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Monash University Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Kait James


Murdoch University Art Curators Mark Stewart and Dr Baige Zylstra are thrilled with this new acquisition.

“This superb new work by Kait James will enrich the Collection’s representation of contemporary Indigenous art. Artworks such as Olde Worlde play a vital educational and cultural role within the University – amplifying First Nations voices and perspectives, enabling truth-telling, and recognising the value of First Nations peoples, cultures and knowledges.  These are key priorities for the University and we’re proud to contribute to this through the Art Collection.”

Kait James, Olde Worlde, 2023, wool and cotton stitching on vintage printed tea towel, 77.5 x 45.5 x 6 cm. Purchased to support Murdoch University Art Collection’s 50th anniversary Gold Horizon acquisitions campaign. Image courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc.


Posted on:

13 Dec 2023

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