2023 Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E. Fellow announced: Grace Dlabik


BLAK C.O.R.E, the Univeristy of Melbourne, Museums and Collections are delighted to announce the Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E. Fellowship to Grace Dlabik from June – September 2023.

Grace Dlabik is a multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm (Melbourne), working across sculpture, curation, creative direction, community building and engagement. She is Austrian/Hungarian and a proud Papua New Guinean woman from Lavaipia clan of Lese Oalai, and Motuan clan Botai of Hanuabada. Dlabik’s practice sits at the nexus of contemporary art and traditional cultural practice; informed by the richness of cross-cultural discourse and her roles as Mama, carer and aunty, which are all foundational to her core.

Her work is deeply informed by her Melanesian heritage and the inherent knowledge systems passed down to her, exploring avenues for continuing this ancestral knowledge and practice within the contemporary landscape. Across all modes of practice, she maintains the intention and conviction of building ecosystems where community care and culture are intrinsically woven and connected.

Over her 25 year career, she has remained a highly-sought after visionary trailblazer and strategist specifically in future thinking and community building. Grace is the founder and creative director of BE. and BE. ONE. an international collective dedicated to forging pathways for underrepresented creatives, with a focus on cultivating communities in nurturing and collaborative spaces. As part of The Sydney Biennale 2020, NIRIN, Grace presented HAIVETA; a major project and activation, refurbishing a Sydney Ferry as a moving art reclamation piece of Pasifika women’s heritage, identity and community.

Situated on Wurundjeri Country of the Kulin Nation, Grace is now channelling her decades of creative output into a transformative and personal art practice, creating works in intuitive, embodied response to the materials of clay, limestone and bronze. She creates and debuts these works in ‘art haus’; her home, studio and gallery. She also invites community to utilise the offerings of this space; building legacies in her true style of establishing deep-rooted ecosystems on a framework of community connection.


During her fellowship with BLAK C.O.R.E. Grace Dlabik will lead a special project with BE. Collective called karu kin, that connects indigenous women and non-binary folk through clay making using memory, embodiment, nurture, nourishment and connection. 

BE. is a creative collective dedicated to establishing new pathways of connection through experiences, conversations and collaborations. With the intention to shape an ever-evolving creative ecosystem that represents all types of communities and expressions.

Image from left to right: Kait Waup, Grace Dlabik (COSMO DOG), Kara Kupe, Aminata Diallo, Leilani Turner, Tavao Fa’avae-Eli, Leilani Fuimaono. Photo by Dan Elborne

Get to know the participants:

Kaiit Waup (She/He/They) – Kaiit is a 25 year old Papua New Guinean born & First Nations artist, growing up and creatively expressing on Wurundjeri country in Naarm.
Kaiit is well known for her main art practise, music! But that doesn’t bound her from expressing freely in other formats, working with different tools and playing with new materials.
From painting, to jewellery, digital drawings and more clay work to follow, Kaiit is also a professional makeup artist, something she’s studied and been practising years before winning her ARIA award.

Aminata Diallo (pronoun is my name) – Aminata enjoys teaching yoga as ritual practice, loves dreaming of new cake creations and brewing potions. Aminata is Bamanan, Yoruba and Peulh. A double air sign, who you’ll often find daydreaming and sharing secrets with plant friends.

Leilani Turner (they/she) – Te Hikutu/Pakeha. Takatapui. Living in Naarm/Melbourne and working across multiple platforms of making and activism including Ceramics, Community action, Allyship, Fermentation, Photography, unpacking the constant assault that is colonisation and a keen interestin all things deeply process driven. Deepening their connections to culture, The practice of care, learning through walking and listening, finding new ways to embody grief, cooking, Collective making/firing processes, how to retain your ethical and moral compass in the shitstorm that is capitalism. Surfing. Queer and Indigenous yes please.

Leilani fuimaono is a samoan-australian multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm (melbourne). Leilani works primarily in photography, film and sculpture. their work often explores themes of grief, belonging/not belonging, chronic illness & disability, and deconstructing notions of identity and community. Leilani has exhibited photographic and sculptural work at FCAC, Wyndham Art Gallery and is the current recipient of a Creative Victoria arts grant for a photography project collaborating with Black, Indigenous and Pasifika people living with chronic illness and disability. Leilani will be showcasing work for PHOTO 2024 at The Substation in Newport. Leilani’s interest in working with clay is rooted in connecting to the traditional use of pottery dating back several thousands of years across the Pacific Islands.

Kara Kupe Ngāi Tahu/ Taranaki – Kara is a Māori multi disciplinary creative based in Naarm. Kara is most known for her sustainable brand BARE that she founded in 2018, designing truly ethical sustainable and inclusive clothing that adheres to the principals of Kaitiakitanga. Through BARE, Kara was working towards creating spaces for POC women, Trans and Non-Binary people to feel represented both through the designs and the creative process. Exploring a practise with ceramics has been a beautiful addition to designing. The way we extract
from the Earth and put back.

Tavao Fa’avae-Eli – Tavao is an Aoterora/New Zealand-born multidisciplinary artist/designer of proud Samoan heritage. Her creative practice honours bloodlines and celebrates Samoan & Pasifika identity, language and lifestyle through contemporary art, illustration and product design at her online space, koko & ki.