By Grace Lillian Lee (Meriam Mir, Torres Strait Islands), born Cairns

Curator: Broached Commissions Location: Melbourne Quarter, best viewed from the corner of Flinders Street and Wurundjeri Way Photographer: Peter Bennetts


About this artwork

Grace Lillian Lee’s sculpture is an ode to Binbeal, the Kulin Nation god of the rainbow, son of Bunjil. Embodied represents the first ever public art commission of Grace Lillian Lee. This work represents a radical enlargement of the body-armour and cloth weaving that sits at the heart of Lillian Lee’s fashion practice.

The back wall of the Oculus designed pavilion is occupied by a screen that represents the accumulation of rain, which Binbeal gathers into a rainbow on the outside of the sculpture and weaves into the body armour sculpture. The weave pattern laser-cut into the metal and represented in the folded metal sculpture overlooking Wurundjeri Way is based on Torres Strait Island weaving techniques.

About the Artist

Cairns-based artist Grace Lillian Lee first trained in fashion design at RMIT University, Melbourne. Today, she is one Australia’s leading textile artists, whose work is included in major public collections including at the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and many others. Lee, of multicultural heritage including Torres Strait Islander, Chinese, English, German and Danish, has exhibited her work internationally and produced fashion shows across Papua New Guinea, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Drawing on her Torres Strait Islander heritage, Lee applies intricate weaving techniques to create body sculptures that merge traditional women’s practices with commentary on body politics and how Indigenous culture can be positioned within Australian design today. By fusing traditional techniques with contemporary fashion training, Lee’s work reminds audiences of the diverse and dynamic nature of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander culture, exemplifying the ways in which these cultures are not static, but alive and evolving with contemporary technology and design.

At Melbourne Quarter, Lee shows her ability to weave together experimental textile design with millennia-old dreamtime stories by creating an ode to the Kulin Nation god of the rainbow, Binbeal. Here, Lee has imagined an armour for Binbeal, radically increasing the scale of the artist’s previous body sculptures in what is her first public art commission.

Grace is the founder of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair and a member of the advisory board for the Swayn Centre for Australian Design at the National Museum of Australia, representing Indigenous Fashion Design and Textiles.

Additional art works by this artist

Browse other Public Art Works at Melbourne Quarter