Kent Morris: Never alone

3–30 August 2020

Kent Morris, Never alone 2020, digital billboard, installation image, intersection of Fitzroy Street, Canterbury Road and Grey Street, St Kilda, Melbourne. Commissioned by ACCA. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Andrew Curtis

Never alone, a billboard project by Kent Morris, was the first in a series of off-site projects launched in the lead-up to Who’s Afraid of Public Space? Never alone was launched in August 2020 as Melbourne returned to a mandated hard lockdown.

Wedged between the usual schedule of advertisements, a digital billboard on St Kilda’s busy intersection between Grey and Fitzroy Streets offered the words Never alone, projected across a jewel-like geometric pattern, with the recurring image of a native Nankeen Night Heron, a bird encountered by Morris most nights during the early isolation period on walks through Elwood, on Yaluk-ut Weelam Country.

Kent Morris, a Melbourne-based artist and descendant of the Barkindji people of north-western New South Wales, said of the work “During the COVID-19 period, there has been a reframing of how we collectively perceive time. We have a remembered past, an anxious present and an uncertain future. Never alone encourages a reflective response to our current state of existence and suggests that the incorporation of Indigenous philosophies, knowledges and relationships can reshape and navigate a connected pathway forward.”

ACCA Artistic Director and CEO Max Delany said: “We are honoured to present Kent Morris’ Never alone,  which reflects his interest in countering the lack of Indigenous cultural representation in the built environment.”

“The work’s location, on a busy St Kilda intersection, is positioned halfway between the Ngargee Tree or Corroboree Tree, near St Kilda Junction and Cleve Gardens – two significant gathering places for First Nations people.”

Kent Morris graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts and is an alumnus of the Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program. Morris is also CEO of The Torch, an organisation dedicated to supporting Indigenous men and women in prisons and post-release through arts and cultural programs. Central to Morris’ work is an interest in the connections between contemporary Indigenous cultural practices and their continuation and evolution.