On Bunurong Country: Art and Design in Frankston, edited by University of Melbourne art historian Dr Jane Eckett with McClelland
Director, Lisa Byrne, documents the significant cultural legacy of the greater Frankston region through a series of commissioned essays by leading authorities: Andrew Gaynor, Prof. Philip Goad, Dr Bronwyn Hughes OAM, Simon Lawrie, Dr Sheridan Palmer, Simon Reeves with Dr Jeffrey Turnbull, Linda Short, Dr Benjamin Thomas, and Dr David Tutchener with the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
The book begins with the art of the Bunurong people from pre-colonisation through to the present day, then continues with nineteenth-century colonial views of Frankston, before focusing on local resident and visiting luminaries such as Harry and Annie Nan McClelland, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, Sir Daryl and Lady Joan Lindsay, Sir Keith and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, the renowned Boyd family of painters and potters, and Frankston-born contemporary artist Rick Amor. Other chapters explore responses to the coast, including Stanley Kramers cult-classic film On the Beach (1959), post-WW2 modernist architecture and stained glass, public art and memorials, and the history of McClelland Gallery, which is so integral to the Frankston region.
Editor Jane Eckett says the book is premised on the idea that art and design can tell us stories about a particular place and the people who have lived or visited there, and these stories can help us to better understand and appreciate a place in its present-day reality.
Our focus is on that area extending from Carrum in the north, through Seaford and Frankston, down to Mount Eliza in the south (a distance of some 14 kilometres) and inland to Langwarrin (6.5 kilometres east of Frankston), taking in Baxter and Carrum Downs. This area, of fewer than 100 square kilometres, is largely a coastal environment. Its cliffs and beaches, creeks and swamps, and stands of banksia, eucalypt, tea tree and she-oak not only determined the sorts of economic systems practised by both Bunurong and colonisers but also shaped the artworks, buildings, and material culture made in the area.
Frankston and its immediate surrounds have attracted many artists and architects over the past 170 years of colonisation. Their stories, and those of the Bunurong who preceded them and who continue to live on Country, are intimately linked with the specifics of place.
Far from a simplistic linear history of place as read through its art, architecture, and design, this is a constellation of overlapping and interconnected stories of many people and their creative endeavours, Dr Eckett said.
The 396-page beautifully illustrated publication was seed funded by a grant from the Frankston City Council and grew significantly in scope under the stewardship of McClelland and through the generous support of sponsors.
McClelland Artistic & Executive Director, Lisa Byrne, says On Bunurong Country: Art and Design in Frankston, is an exceptional read that will illuminate the unique and deep layered social history of greater Frankston, which is often overlooked in histories of the Mornington Peninsula and Victoria more generally.
For the first time we have a detailed account of the Frankston districts extraordinary cultural life, which will surprise and delight many.
McClelland is proud to have played a key role in making this project happen.
Wed like to acknowledge the initial seeding grant from the Frankston City Council and the generous support of University of Melbourne, particularly the Faculty of Arts and the School of Culture and Communication; the Estate of Margaret and Roderick Macdonald; the Gordon Darling Foundation; Janet Calvert-Jones AO and John Calvert-Jones AM; Khalil Khiran in honour of Carl Andrew, McClellands first director; Julie Kantor AO; Rob Gould; Michelle Graham; Chris and Penny Richards; the late Baillieu Myer AC, and one anonymous donor, Ms Byrne said.
On Bunurong Country: Art and Design in Frankston will be officially launched at McClelland, Langwarrin on Saturday 26 August 2023.