Kaiela Arts

Since 2006

Kaiela Arts has a long story, rooted in the journey of Yorta Yorta People and their Woka, and pre-dating its formalisation in 2006 as an arts and cultural organisation known as Gallery Kaiela.

Gallery Kaiela’s purpose was to bring art out of individuals’ homes, publicly display and sell works made around kitchen tables or home studios and celebrate the ongoing creative and cultural practices of the community.

Gallery Kaiela evolved into Kaiela Arts, changing location twice and formalising as an arts centre that included studio spaces. It is now a thriving arts centre; a hub for conversation and creation, it plays a central role in the wellbeing of the whole community. It’s not just the art that’s important, it is the space it holds for people to connect to each other and to culture.

Kaiela artists work across weaving, woodwork, watercolour and acrylic painting, emu egg carving, clay, screenprinting and textiles. The group of Elder’s paintings exhibited in Collective Movements are outcomes of these gatherings. Every Wednesday and Friday, Elders and other members of the community come to Kaiela Arts to paint and experiment with different mediums, where discussions of place, identity and memory occur.

Alongside paintings, a series of hand-painted Freshwater Country ceramic bowls and several weavings were gathered for Collective Movements, representing just some of the creative diversity of
Kaiela Arts’s network. The bowls were made by individual artists and community members over conversations in group sessions at Kaiela Arts to make products for the store. Similarly, the weavings were created during workshops and gatherings at Kaiela Arts, where materials and techniques are shared, and personal and familial styles emerge.

Kaiela Arts have received commissions from major institutions including Monash University, RMIT University, and the newly-built Shepparton
Arts Museum, where Kaiela Arts has been based since 2021. In 2016, Yorta Yorta artists and members of Kaiela Arts, Jack Anselmi and Aunty Cynthia Hardie, created Midden: a contemporary recreation of a cultural heritage site that once sat on the banks of the Kaiela (Goulburn River).

It was created for, and won, the Indigenous Ceramic Award at Shepparton Art Museum, and now sits in their collection.

Over three months, the pair created and used moulds (exhibited in Collective Movements) to form the porcelain replicas of shells and animal bones that make up Midden. The moulds are an imprint of Country, conveying the continued connection the practitioners at Kaiela Arts have to the land, plants and animals around them.

Exhibited in Collective Movements:

Clay moulds used to create Midden 2016 by Jack Anselmi and Aunty Cynthia Hardie; a series of hand-painted Freshwater Country ceramic bowls; assorted weavings by Kaiela Arts members, created 2016–22; and:

Yorta Yorta

Inspiration 2019 hand-dyed raffia 50 x 49 cm

Yorta Yorta

Crossing the Dungala by Punt 2019 synthetic polymer paint and watercolour on canvas 51.5x92cm

Gathering Food and Water 2019 synthetic polymer paint on canvas 46×60.5cm


Basket Set of Three 2016 raffia 6x14x8.5cm;6x18x10cm; 6 x 19.5 x 10.5 cm

Baskets (Oval Set of Three) 2016
3.5x11x6cm;7x15x7.5cm; raffia 5.5x21x9cm


Yorta Yorta

Nan’s House at Cummeragunja 2019 synthetic polymer paint and sand on board
Private collection

Raffia Basket 3 with Seed Shell 2021 raffia, seed shell and emu feathers

Yorta Yorta and Wurunjeri

Back to Cummera 2019 synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Private collection

Story Telling by the Campfire 2019 watercolour on paper 29 x 38.5 cm (sight)

Bush Dreaming 2021 watercolour on paper 38 x 56 cm irreg.

Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung

Raffia Basket 2020 hand-dyed raffia
13 x 18 cm diameter

Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung

Rainbow Basket 2022

Turquoise Basket 2022 raffia
5.5 x 12 cm diameter

All works courtesy of Kaiela Arts, unless otherwise noted

‘You can feel the energy of people when it just naturally happens, when people are there for the same reasons. It’s a part of the spirit of who we are, and that is why it’s important for us to be able to collaborate and connect.’

—Lyn Thorpe, Kaiela Arts member