Linda Short co-curated the Handmade Universe exhibition, which features Spencer’s work along with nine other contemporary artists, designers and makers, as well as 68 objects from State Library Victoria and other collections. She says the show grew out of Spencer’s donation of the star map in 2019.
“There was something about her story, the kind of intimate, endless possibilities of the work she was doing,” Short says. “That really inspired the theme of this exhibit, that discoveries and explorations aren’t always things you find in books: they can actually take place at home, in canteens, studios and And that creativity can be a very powerful way to discover things.
Other elements of the exhibition reflect this theme: old books from the library collection show the changing maps of the Earth as our conception of the universe reorients itself to center on the sun, and a video work of the Sans facon artists follow sunrise and sunset around the world. . The room is wrapped in a wall tapestry by Mandy Nicholson called land of starsrepresenting the dreamlike traces of the Wurundjeri.
“Star Country is something people forget to watch when they live in an urban environment,” Nicholson says. “What’s out there, and what we can’t see, and us being such a small grain of sand in the scheme of things, has always really inspired me.”
She loves the connections between Western and Australian Indigenous cosmology. Altair was first named “the eagle star” by the ancient Babylonians and Sumerians; his crowd knows Altair as Bunjil, the wedge-tailed eagle, flanked by his two consorts, the black swans.
“All dreams, songs and dream trails have existed since time immemorial and connect all these different layers of countries.”
When she’s out in the country watching meteors blaze across the sky or seeing an eclipse darken it, Nicholson wonders what her old crowd would have thought of it and thinks of the stories of the stars that have been lost, as well only to those who have been saved. to tell to new generations.