At this time of disruption and change, Front And Centre takes over Brunswick Mechanics, illuminating First Nations queer collective, Motherless Haus. 

Artists Cerulean, Mo Money, Oyana and Stone Motherless Cold, Blak out Brunswick Mechanics – occupying the windows with renderings of their drag faces and filling the blank space with their writing. These artists were given the space and asked to dress it, awakening the site after months of closed doors. 

Front And Centre lends visibility to Blak Queer artists when the ability to perform, and be seen and heard, is limited. 

Mo Money (He/They)

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Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

Part 1: Wiradjuri

Bright spring colours of yellow, blue, green – mixing sun, sky, and land – burst forth from the background, along with the silver outline of flowers. Floating above the fray are three butterfly-shaped spirits. Their wings are darkening shades of bruised purples and blues; blood red and fiery orange; and grass to lime green. They are shape-shifters, also taking on the mischievous expressions of rogue masquerade masks. The details of the butterfly’s wings, legs and noses, can also be seen as inquisitive eyes, moustaches – ranging from refined to gruff – alert eyebrows, and mouths that smile, pucker and spit seeds. They are engaging in the play of pollen on the wind, spreading seed and gossip.  

Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

Part 2: Wiradjuri 

The background is a maelstrom of painted, evolving blues that express the dynamic movement of an electrical storm, the clouds billow and burst with shifts in the wind. The deeper blues shift stagnant air and promise a release of rain, while the lighter surface blues are on verge of weightless white. In the foreground are hand-painted words in silver that describe wind in the language of the Wiradjuri people (mob name from north-west of Sydney). The letters are in lower-case and have a playful, naïve quality. The words from top to bottom are: guddarrra, to feel a current of cold wind; garranggarra, a belching up wind; dhawura and girray, both descriptions of wind. Although the latter words both mean wind, all these words bring an onomatopoeia quality to the description of different winds. In combination the painting and words represent the coinciding winds in the month of August, traditionally known as the windy month on the land of the Woi Wurrung. 

Cerulean (She/They)

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Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

The painting is a head and shoulder self-portrait of drag artist, Cerulean the Meriam Goddess. The painting replicates Cerulean’s make-up “look” with cultural references to the artist’s homeland of the Torres Strait. The foundation on Cerulean’s face is earthen brown tones, with shading to accentuate the cheekbones and jawline. Her lips are a golden caramel hue, with teeth slightly showing. A third of the face is taken up by thick stripes of white outline around the almond-shaped eyes, with cerulean blue eye shadow, dark three-pronged eyelashes, and thin eyebrows painted high on the forehead. The eyes are focused on the viewer and two tears cling to the lower-eyelid of the right eye, while the other the eye remains unaffected. Cerulean’s overall facial expression is calm, collected, balanced. Grass green bushy hair and a bright red hibiscus flower over the left ear surround her face. To either side of the face hang earrings cut from kulap seeds, a many-chambered pod that rattles and is used to make traditional musical instruments. Behind Cerulean’s shoulder shines a sun yellow background, while her neck and shoulders are painted in a picture-perfect postcard of a serene blue ocean. In this picture – on the horizon, around where the Adam’s apple would be on the throat – a tropical green island is rising out of the water. Or is it slowly submerging?  

Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

The painting depicts an ocean horizon, filled with soft blues of the water and sky and a lavender halo around the yellow-orange glow of the sun as it peeks above the horizon. The atmosphere could be twilight or morning, the sun could be setting or rising, carrying us toward day or toward night. In the centre of the painting Cerulean the Meriam Goddess stands in water up to her waist, facing the sun, her back to the viewer. She is naked, the skin on her back is a rich brown, with dark shoulder-length hair. She appears to be going into the water even as she emerges out of her shadow that is cast on the water. Above her are the grey figures of the Shark and Hammerhead. They leap out of the water and form an arch shape above her. They are real and totem, reminiscent of the Dhari (traditional headdress) that appears on the Torres Strait flag. 

Oyana (She/Her)

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Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

A Prayer to Mambo Ayizan 

A large black, yellow and red diamond-shaped line drawing of the vèvè of Mambo Ayizan (priestess of the marketplace of knowledge) is drawn on a white background. A vèvè acts as a beacon for spirits (Lao) during Haitian vodou ceremonies. Ayizan’s vèvè is comprised of her initials, the capital “A” and the “V”, intersecting across each other. A palm frond pattern is depicted at its centre, with the mid-rib or centreline of the frond and the veins growing out towards edges. The diamond is adorned with stars above, below and to either side There is an overlay of the Aboriginal flag colours on the lines of the vèvè: black at the top, red at the bottom, and a circle of yellow energy at the centre of the vèvèVèvè are often used in ritual ground drawing done in Haitian vodou ceremonies. The inter-indigenational use of Australian Aboriginal colours, and the placement of the work in the window, means it could be interpreted as a beacon or shield, depending on your cultural knowle

Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

A line drawing of the artist’s self-devised vèvè is drawn in green lines on a white background. Larger and smaller triangles, assembled and layered on top of and within each other, starting with large triangles at the bottom and graduating to small triangle towards the top of the canvas, create a towering effect. A horizontal line running through the centre of the canvas, broken by the structure, gives a sense of electricity or current running through the lines. This line calls attention to the fact that the vèvè is mirrored vertically, but not horizontally. It is reminiscent of an electrical tower for power to pass through, but also an inverted Wi-Fi signal, a beacon gathering information from the ether. 

Stone Motherless Cold (They/She)

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Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

The painting is a head and shoulder portrait of a human-like creature with sun-gold skin and aspects of feminine drag, reminiscent of Stone Motherless Cold’s drag look. Their neck grows from the bottom of the canvas like a branch, swollen and wider at the base, narrowing and turning at a right angle up towards the chin. This suggests an otherworldly body attached to the neck and head of the portrait. A warm yellow light seems to shine on the skin, as it changes in gradient from sun yellow, to orange, the red ochre, to brown, to a rich black, as if their features can shift and change when they are caught in a different light. The lower two thirds of their face is diamond-shaped: sharp, prominent cheekbones, small chin, and puckered red ochre lips with dark lip-liner. The nose is small at the centre of the face. A mane of black, curly, shoulder-length hair, with licks of silver throughout, surrounds the face. At the centre of the face are the eyes, fringed by eyelashes similar to colour feathers.The eyes are shaped like dispassionate golden suns, rising or setting on the horizon. The glimmering eyes are veiled in a flowery white lace. 

Inside a 3m tall stone arch window, the artwork is an exact fit to the bottom half of the window frame, a rectangle roughly 1m wide x 1.5m tall. It is acrylic and oil paint on canvas. 

The painting is a moment-in-time portrait of the lower half of a human body splashing in a shallow pool of water. From a short tulle ocean green ballet skirt two legs come down the full length of the painting. They are mid-dance. The left leg is straight and stands in cool blue water that ripples out around it, while the right leg is bent at the knee and extends back behind the body, perhaps into an arabesque. Similar to the other artwork, a warm yellow light seems to shine from behind onto the back of the legs. The skin colour changes in gradient from sun yellow, to orange, the red ochre, to brown. The front of the legs are a rich black. The scene takes place on a white background of liminal space, perpetual motion captured in a moment. 

Artist bios

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Mo Money is a queer Wiradjuri non binary person who was raised on Kulin Nations and continues to reside there. Indiah’s practise includes visual art, written work, installations and performance art. These are done with strong recurring themes of colonialism, assimilation, skin colour, gender, mental illness, sexuality, climate change, stolen generations, identity as well as critiquing the Eurocentric western idealised structure that each person in Australia is forced to maintain. 
 
Cerulean is an expressive blue gem who descended from the Pisces constellation to bless mere mortals with a raining cloud of excitement, energy and fun! Her body morphs into an ensemble of contrasting forms, exploring colours, shapes and gender – or lack thereof. She uses the art of drag to tell stories throughout alternate dimensions. All of Cerulean’s stage appearances see her personify another being to create specialised narrative driven performances. She approaches art in the same way, although her art is more a mirror to the human vessel behind the facade. 
 
Oyana is a Haitian-American Trans nonbinary womyn, Anti-Academic Anthropologist, artist, and a founding member of The Motherless Haus. Currently based in Taiwan; she has collaborated with many performance artists in Turtle Island (the land the USA and Canada illegally occupies), Haiti, and so-called Australia. Her performance art documents her research of contemporary Pan-Indigenous identity through the lens of Haitian Vodou Folklore and seeks an understanding of how to codify decolonized systems of interindigenational cultural exchanges and establish a network of globally conscious cultural exchanges of art that convert colonial forms of currency into decolonized exchange opportunities between indigenous communities. 

Stone Motherless Cold is an Arrernte gem, currently based in so-called Melbourne. Using drag as their main medium, Stone dabbles in performance art, dance, spoken word and visual art. Stone was one of the title winners of the VIC NAIDOC LGBTQIA+ 2019 event and has previously worked on ‘The Fae’ at Signal Arts 2020,  ‘Drag of Kwatye’ at 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival, ‘Dis Rupt’ for 2019 Yirramboi and 2019 ‘Lets Take Over presents: The Reveillon’ at Northcote Town Hall.