Pitcha Makin Fellas
The Pitcha Makin Fellas are an arts collective based in Ballarat on Wadawurrung land who are passionate about their culture and community, and share their pride through their art. The group formed in 2013 at the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative from a meeting to develop a children’s book. At the end of this meeting, seven artists and writers came together to form the collective.
Over the past nine years, the Pitcha Makin Fellas have been through many evolutions and they currently have three members, Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji woman Trudy Edgeley; Dja Dja Wurrung, Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta woman Alison McRae; and Gunditjmara man Ted Laxton, one of the original seven.
Inspired by the histories and cultural traditions of south-eastern Australia, as well as observations, news and public debates, their works range from brightly coloured paintings and murals—made using their signature stamps—to hand-painted breastplates, a series of ‘Blakfella Time’ clocks, and books. They have become known for their tongue-in-cheek humour and use their collective voice to speak up and speak back to incidents of racism, discrimination and the ongoing impacts of colonialism in their local community.
The Pitcha Makin Fellas regularly lead workshops for community and school groups and are currently Artists-in-Residence at Federation University Australia in Ballarat. Their studio is the key to making their works. In this space, they sit together and workshop ideas, discuss things that matter to them and collaborate on how to best tell their stories through stamps and paint.
For Collective Movements, the Fellas exhibit their new painting series, Why Don’t Whitefellas Like Trees?, 2022, and six works from their
2016 series blackface (realface). The triptych Why Don’t Whitefellas Like Trees? was made by Pitcha Makin Fellas artists Trudy Edgeley, Alison McRae and Ted Laxton and is inspired by continuous Djab Wurrung care for Country and the ongoing campaign to stop the destruction of a number of trees for road-widening works near Ararat, Victoria. The Fellas are keen to protect all the great trees that surround us, across all of Australia.
blackface (realface) is a series of paintings that recognise people from the Fellas’ community who are often unseen and go unacknowledged for the contributions they make to their country and society. The paintings were created by members of the Pitcha Makin Fellas, who at the time included Ted Laxton, Joe Lee, Thomas Marks, Adrian Rigney, Peter-Shane Rotumah and Myles Walsh. They are a response to a series of racist occurrences in the Fellas’ local area, where white people were painting themselves in blackface.
Exhibited in Collective Movements:
Why Don’t Whitefellas Like Trees? 2022 synthetic polymer paint on foamboard 3 parts, 260 x 156 cm each
Courtesy of Pitcha Makin Fellas