Marlene Gilson, Artist Portrait

Clan – Wathaurung (Wadawurrung)
Aunty Marlene Gilson: Born Warrnambool: 1944

Marlene Gilson’s multi-figure paintings work to overturn the colonial grasp on the past by reclaiming and re-contextualising the representation of historical events.
Learning her Wathaurung history from her grandmother, Gilson began painting while recovering from an illness.
The artist’s meticulously rendered works display a narrative richness and theatrical quality akin to the traditional genre of history painting.
Gilson, however, privileges those stories relating to her ancestral land, which covers Ballarat, Werribee, Geelong, Skipton and the Otway Ranges in Victoria.
Often including her two totems, Bunjil the Eagle and Waa the Crow, Gilson’s paintings not only reconfigure historical narratives, but display her spiritual connection to Country. 

Solo Exhibitions

2023   Binbeal, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney, 2-25 March 2023
2021   My Place – Before, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney, 4-28 March 2021
2020   On Country, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney, 5 March-29 March 2020
2018   Marlene Gilson, Biennale of Australian Art, Art Gallery of Ballarat,
            Ballarat, 21 September 2018 – 3 February 2019
2017   What If, Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne, 5 August – 8 October 2017
2016   Painting StoriesAunty Marlene, Solo Exhibition, Creswick and Bacchus Marsh Libraries, NAIDOC Week. 3 – 10 July
2015   Guraham – King William – His Country, Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, Ballarat, 26 September – 23 January 2016
2014   Wadawurrung – Past, Present & Future, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural
            Centre at Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, 5 December 2014 – 28 June 2015 (with Deanne Gilson)
2012   Welcome to our Country (Ngardang baap yarrang) – Mother and Daughter – Wathaurung (Wadawurrung) Dreaming, Art Gallery of Ballarat,
August 4th, 2012 – September 9th, 2012 (with Deanne Gilson)

Group Exhibitions

2024   60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia curated by Adriano Pedrosa
2023   Wurrdha Marra, National Gallery of Victoria – Ian Potter Centre, October 2023- September 2023 
2023   For Our Elders, NAIDOC Week, Eureka Centre, Ballarat
2023   Australiana – Designing A Nation, Bendingo Art Gallery, 18 March – 25 June 2023
2022   BUNJIL WOUR KUN YA – SPIRIT OF MY ANCESTORS, Martin Browne Contemporary at the Melbourne Art Fair, 17- 20 February 2022
2022   Still Here, Now, Platform Arts, Geelong, 21 January – 18 February
2021   Treaty, Wyndham Art Gallery, 29 July – 18 October 2021
2021   We Change the World, National Gallery of Victoria – Ian Potter Centre, 6 May 21 – 27 March 2022
2021   Deadly Narratives, Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne, 13 March – 30 May 2021
2019   Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini, Central Goldfields Art Gallery, Maryborough, August – September
2019   New Acquisitions, Shepparton Art Museum, January 2019
2018  Colony: Australia 1770 – 1861, Frontier Wars, National Gallery of Victoria, 15 March – 30 September 2018
2018  The National Picture: The Art of Tasmania’s Black War, National Gallery of Australia, 12 May – 29 July 2018 touring to Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery,
Hobart and the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston
2018   Superpostion, 21st Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South
            Wales, Sydney, 16 March – 11 June 2018
2018   Colony: Frontier Wars, National Gallery of Victoria, 15 Mar 2018 – 15 Jul 2018
2017   Reconciliation, Manningham Art Gallery, Doncaster, Victoria, 24 May – 24 June 2017
2017   Taking the Myth, The Lost Ones Gallery, Ballarat, 26 April – 28 May 2017
2017   Leather Poisoning, Counihan Gallery,Brunswick, Victoria,11 March 2017 – 9 April 2017
2016   Sovereignty, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne,
17 December 2016 -26 March 2017
2016   Kingston Art Centre, ‘I Never Painted My Dreams, I Painted My Reality’, Kingston Art Centre, Moorrabin, Victoria, 2 -27 September 2016
2016   Gekko Systems Commission Exhibition, Gekko Systems, Ballarat, August-September 2016
2015   The 10th Anniversary Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, Art Gallery of Ballarat, 9 August – 20 September 2015
2015   Wominjeka – A New Beginning, Koorie Heritage Trust 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne19 September – 22 November 2015,
travelling to East Gippsland Art Gallery, Mildura Art Centre, Burrinja Cultural Centre, Wangaratta Art Gallery and Horsham Regional Art Gallery,May 2016 – August 2017
2015   Executed in Franklin St, City Gallery, Melbourne, 26 November 2015 to 1 February 2016
2014   The 9th Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, Art Gallery of Ballarat, 23 August – 5 October 2014
2014   Eureka 160th Anneiversary, Contain Art Exhibition, Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka Stockade, Ballarat December 3 2014
2014   White Night Festival, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne 22 February 2014, Projection of Artworks
2014   Koorie Heritage Trust Art Awards, Melbourne, Christmas Exhibition, 1 December – February 28
2013   Koorie Heritage Trust Art Awards, Melbourne, Christmas Exhibition, 1 December – February 25
2013   The Ballarat Four, Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne
2011   NAIDOC Week, Post Office Gallery, Federation University, Ballarat
2010   Wathaurung Community Celebration, Art Exhibition, Gordon, Victoria
2010   Cancer Council Art Awards Exhibition, Melbourne
2009   Cancer Council Art Awards Exhibition, Melbourne
2008   Cancer Council Art Awards Exhibition, Melbourne
2007   Cancer Council Art Awards Exhibition, Melbourne
Highly commended: Cancer Council Awards, Exhibition Travelled to Regional Galleries across Victoria

Films and Projections

2019   Deadly Questions, White Night Ballarat, Projected onto the Bank of New South Wales Building, Ballarat, 20 September, 2019
2019   Deadly Questions, White Night Melbourne, Projected onto the National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne, 22-24 August 2019
2017   Wadawurrung Walking with Waa, White Night Ballarat, Projection, March 4, 2017
2017   Wadawurrung Walking with Waa, (11 minutes), Artist Film (with Deanne Gilson and Barry Gilson)
2016 & 2017
Using several images of Marlene’s paintings and other artists, in a projection on the Geelong Town Hall Projection, Reconciliation Weeks (27 May – 3 June)
and NAIDOC Weeks (6 – 3 July)
2015   Reconciliation Week, Geelong City Council, Artwork Projection on Town Hall, 27 May – 3 June 2015
2015   White Night Festival, Artwork Projection at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural
            Centre at Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, 21 February 2015

Book Covers

2018   Conflict, Adaption, Transformation. Richard Broome and the Practice of Aboriginal History, Edited by Ben Silverstein
2015   Book Cover for Dark Southern Sun by author Shaun McLaughlin


2023   Wyndham Printing Workshop – 2 Prints 
2023   Riverdale East Primary School – incorporation of artwork throughout the architecture of the building 
2019   Talk, Presenter, Murrup Laarr, Ballarat
2018   Artist Talk, Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales
2018   ABC, Artist Talk, Biennale of Sydney, (Youtube)
2017   Artist Talk, Reconciliation Week, Manningham Art Gallery
Artist in residence Art Gallery of Ballarat, Reconciliation and NAIDOC weeks: Workshops in – Ochre painting, Bunjil’s Nest & Bunjil’s Country 
2015   Artist Talk, Art Gallery of Ballarat
2013   Forum presenter at Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka,
2013   Artist Talk at Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka,
2013   History Walk with Bungaree Primary School
2013   Gordon Primary School, Painting symbols with the Children
2010 – 11
Symbol Workshop, St Patrick’s Secondary College Secondary
Symbol Workshop, St Patrick’s Primary School


2016   City of Ballarat, Bunjil Plaques on Twelve Historical Buildings
2016   Gekko Painting Award, Ballarat
2015   The 10th Anniversary Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, Art Gallery of Ballarat, 9 August – 20 September 2015
2015   Koorie Heritage Trust Reconciliation Award, Christmas Exhibition
2014   Koorie Heritage Trust Reconciliation Award, Christmas Exhibition
1956   Specially Commended Certificate of Merit, Children’s Art Award, Footscray, Melbourne


Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat
Australian Catholic University Art Collection, Melbourne
Bundoora Homestead, Bundoora
City of Melbourne Art Collection, Melbourne
Counihan Gallery, Brunswick, Victoria
Deakin University Art Collection
Eureka Centre, Ballarat
Geelong Art Gallery
Gekko Systems Art Collection, Ballarat
Guirguis Art Collection, Ballarat
Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne
Manningham Gallery, Doncaster, Victoria
Monash University Collection
Nigel Buesst Art Collection, Melbourne
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton
Sovereign Hill Gold Museum, Ballarat
Wyndham City Art Collection 

Works held in private collections Australia and USA

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