Pigments for retouching. Still from 'Darling Darling' by Gabriella Hirst 2020 IPMIC Commission
Pigments for retouching. A still from 'Darling Darling' by Gabriella Hirst (2020).

ACMI & the Ian Potter Cultural Trust present

Darling Darling: In Conversation

The Ian Potter Moving Image Commission 2020



Sat 13 March 2021


Join Ian Potter Moving Image Commission recipient Gabriella Hirst as she explores the themes and processes behind her work, Darling Darling.

Hosted by curator Shelley McSpedden, and featuring paintings conservator Vanessa Kowalski and Barkandji woman & Research Fellow Zena Cumpston, this timely discussion on Hirst's commissioned work delves into ecology, eco-feminism and artwork conservation.

About Darling Darling

Gabriella Hirst's two-channel video art piece, Darling Darling, presents two contrasting visions of the Barka Darling River in dialogue with each other: the detailed work by art conservators to restore the 19th century painting, The flood in the Darling, 1890, by WC Piguenit, and the environmental crisis facing the river today.

Commissioning partner

Event duration

60 mins


FREE (museum entry ticket required)

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Swinburne Studio, Level 1
ACMI, Fed Square

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About the guests

Gabriella Hirst

Gabriella Hirst (she/her) is an artist and the recipient of the 2020 ACMI/Ian Potter Moving Image Commission. She was born and grew up on Cammeraygal land (AU) and is currently living between Berlin and London. She works primarily with moving image, performance and with the garden as a site of critique and care. Gabriella's practice and research explores connections between various manifestations of capture and control – spanning plant taxonomies, landscape painting, art conservation and nuclear history. She is an associate lecturer in Media Studies with the RCA School of Architecture.

Gabriella Hirst

Zena Cumpston

Zena Cumpston is a Barkandji woman currently working as a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her work centres around Aboriginal perspectives of biodiversity and she recently released a free e-booklet that explores Aboriginal plant use. Zena also works as a writer and consultant and is currently curating the exhibition Emu Sky in collaboration with Science Gallery Melbourne, opening at Old Quad in July 2021. Through the work of Aboriginal artists including Uncle Badger Bates, Dr Jonathan Jones, Dr Aunty Vicki Couzens and Genevieve Grieves, Emu Sky explores the lens through which Aboriginal ecological knowledge has been perceived since Invasion.

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Vanessa Kowalski

Vanessa Kowalski is a painting conservator at Grimwade Conservation Services, University of Melbourne. Vanessa’s work involves the conservation treatment of all types of paintings, including traditional western easel paintings, modern and contemporary easel paintings and Australian Indigenous paintings. Vanessa has a particular interest in the conservation and preservation of Australian Indigenous art and has worked with a number of Indigenous Art Centres across central and northern Australia, specifically in Warmun, Kununurra, Kintore and Yirrkala.


About the host

Shelley McSpedden

Shelley McSpedden is a curator, writer and educator with a particular interest in contemporary art and site-oriented practices. She is currently Senior Curator at Shepparton Art Museum. She has worked in curatorial roles at ACMI, Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), and NETS Victoria previously.

Shelley has written widely on art and has edited a number of significant art publications. She holds a PhD (Art History and Theory) from Monash University, and has taught in the Art History and Theory programs at both Monash University and RMIT. She sits on the Arts Advisory Board for the City of Greater Dandenong.

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See and learn more about 'Darling Darling'

About the Commission

Australia's most significant commission for moving image art, the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission (IPMIC) is an initiative of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust and ACMI. The Commission provides $100,000 from The Ian Potter Cultural Trust as well as specialised curatorial, production and presentation expertise to an Australian artist. Each commissioned work will also be accessioned into the ACMI Collection, sitting alongside works by major Australian and international artists.

About the Ian Potter Cultural Trust

Established in 1993 by The Ian Potter Foundation to encourage and support the diversity and excellence of emerging and early career Australian artists. Learn more

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