The Torch

Since 2011

Since 2011, The Torch has been providing art, cultural and arts industry support to Victorian-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are currently or have previously been incarcerated. The organisation assists artists to reconnect with culture, earn income from art sales (with 100% of the sale price going directly to the artist), foster new networks and to pursue educational and creative industry avenues upon their release.

The Torch is represented in Collective Movements’ tour by Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri artist and Ash Thomas’ mural The Hunters, 2022. This mural is a travelling public artwork, accompanying Collective Movements on it’s journey throughout the varied Country of the South-East.

Ash Thomas says that The Hunters ‘represents the stories and knowledge passed down through the years about hunting and tracking food and about skins for trade and warmth in the colder months. Learning how to only take what you need and about the different ways of tracking and hunting were necessities of life for as long as our beautiful culture has been around. They were our shield of strength and knowledge.’

Additionally, for Collective Movements’ initial presentation at MUMA, Gunnai artist Ray Thomas—a former Indigenous Arts Officer with The Torch—worked with Yorta Yorta artist Leroy McLaughlin, Gamilaroi artist Sean Miller, Barkindji artist Trevor Mitchell and Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta/Wiradjuri artist Ash Thomas on the mural Paying Homage to Culture, 2022, which is installed on Monash University’s Caulfield campus. Following this collaboration, Ash Thomas created The Hunters, 2022, for the exhibition.

Ray’s murals can also be seen at the Northcote Town Hall and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Preston and Fitzroy, and he was one of the group of artists who created the Koorie Mural at the Aborigines Advancement League (AAL) in the 1980s. Earlier in his life, Ray connected with Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus, who introduced him to oil paints and became a mentor throughout Ray’s career, including on the Koorie Mural.

Exhibited in Collective Movements (MUMA): Paying Homage to Culture 2022
Ray Thomas with Leroy McLaughlin, Sean Miller, Trevor Mitchell and Ash Thomas
Acrylic paint on aluminium
Courtesy of the artists and the Torch

Exhibited in Collective Movements (tour): The Hunters 2022
Ash Thomas
Courtesy of Ash Thomas and the Torch

We started with workshops at The Torch boardroom; we sat down and knocked out that story about intergenerational knowledge sharing and the environment. The environment is a big part of it for all of us. And trying to represent Country, how it was pre-colonisation, showing that we’re proud Aboriginal people—that we’d love to share our knowledge.’

—Sean Miller

Culture is the key to spiritual wellbeing, connection to Country and to knowledge handed down through the generations.

—Ash Thomas

Ash Thomas, The Hunters, 2022. Billboard, 3.35 x 12.66 metres. Courtesy of Ash Thomas and The Torch
Ray Thomas with Leroy McLaughlin, Sean Miller, Trevor Mitchell and Ash Thomas, Paying Homage to Culture 2022. Acrylic paint on aluminium, 4 panels:187 x 418.5 cm; 187 x 240.6 cm; 187 x 274 cm; 187 x 293 cm. Produced in association with The Torch. Location: Concourse bridge opposite Building C, Caulfield Campus. Photo: Christian Capurro