Boorhaman Residency Program

Boorhaman, Victoria, 2017


The rural town of Boorhaman is situated in North East Victoria, about half an hour from Wangaratta. It is Pbangerang and Yorta Yorta country, and sits along a beautiful stretch of the Torryong (Ovens River).

According to the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation website, their land covers a wide stretch of the Murray River “roughly from Cohuna to Albury/Wodonga”, and the country now known as Dockers Plains, Boorhaman and Boorhaman North fall within this. They are river people who traditionally make use of the Murray and all its offshoots, fishing and hunting on the land (2012). The Pangerang/ Bangerang have had similar uses for the land and recognise their land stretching across the Kiala (Goulburn) and Torryong (Ovens) rivers. (Dowling, F 2010).

One of the early white colonists to settle in the area was Joseph Docker, who in c1840 settled at a property in Dockers Plains still known as Bontharambo. From the time of the Docker’s settlement, who recognised the natural resources of the area, Boorhaman was divided for farming. It remains an agricultural area today, with farming of mostly beef, sheep and wheat crops.

The central area of Boorhaman has about 25 residents, and the surrounding farming properties make up a further 125 houses (RCoW, 2011). The central area of Boorhaman has a church, hotel, Country Fire Authority (CFA) shed, golf club, community hall, tennis club, a recreational reserve and the closed primary school. These areas attract a range of activities from Sunday church services, weddings, sporting tournaments, fundraising events and community parties. Most of the residents work on the farming properties or in nearby towns to which they commute.
Read Abbra Kotlarczyk’s extended essay on the work of Residency Projects and the Boorhaman Residency Program, published in Art+Australia.

Read more here »

Check here for links to local events, organisations and places:

During the Boorhaman Residency Melbourne based artists Dylan Martorell and Chaco Kato lived and worked in the rural town of Boorhaman, in North East Victoria, creating ambitious artworks at the dis-used Boorhaman Primary School.
These artists used various materials found on site and from around the community, with other materials carefully sourced when bought new so as to align as closely as realistically possible with the material and environmental ethics of Residency Projects.

Throughout the three weeks there were workshops, school visits, artist talks and an open day, marking the end of the program with a publicly accessible day of celebrations.

As a further iteration of this residency there was an exhibition at the Wangaratta Art Gallery, in February 2018; artists installed works which were made on site or were a reflection of their time spent in Boorhaman, curated by Residency Projects Co-Directors Kate Hill and Eugene Howard.

We were delighted to bring this vibrant program of events and dialogue to the beautiful rural town of Boorhaman in Victoria’s North East.

Residency Projects was fortunate to have gained exclusive access to the dis-used Boorhaman Primary school through the State Government of Victoria, we thank the many people involved in making this project a reality: the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Premier the Hon. Daniel Andrews MP, the Department of Education and Training, the Department of Treasury and Finance and the Deputy Premier Education Minister the Hon. James Merlino MP.
In the lead up to this program and ongoing, we have recieved much support from friends, community members and organisations, here are a few key people:

  • State Government of Victoria: Department of Education and Training
  • Department of Treausry and Finance
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • Cathy McGowan (Federal MP for Indi)
  • Judy, Barry and Merryn Byrne
  • Boorhaman Pub
  • Helen Hill
  • Bruck Textiles
  • Alan and Colline Muir (Myrnong)
  • Ian and Faye (for mowing)
  • Workshop participants and all parents and guardians
  • Justine Ambrosio (Rural City of Wangaratta Council)
  • Simone Nolan (Director, Wangaratta Art Gallery)
  • Millie Cattlin and Joe Norster (Co-Directors, The Projects)
  • Creative Victoria
  • Australia Council for the Arts
  • Creative Partnerships Australia
  • Australian Cultural Fund
  • Besen Family Foundation

All public events as part of the Boorhaman Residency Program have been Auslan interpreted


Chaco Kato is an inter-disciplinary artist working across sculpture, drawing, installation and community-based projects. Collaboration and negotiation are crucial tenets of her work, with collective actions and communal discourse often performing as the primary material of her work.

Kato's ambitious projects are often catalysed by simple impulses and frameworks, including reciprocity, negotiation and craft practices of weaving and knotting. These processes open up an intimate space, providing a rich dialogue with everyday materials and processes. Informed by the spirit of punk, the aesthetics of bricolage and 'rhizomatic' systems outlined by theorists and philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, Kato is drawn to working with elements of chaos and order, which importantly all share common principles with zen philosophy.

Kato's foundational beliefs were germinated during her childhood growing up in Japan, a place where Buddhist philosophies permeate even contemporary Japanese society. Her interest in Zen and Taoism, developed later in life, have further evolved her thinking around core explorations of 'impermanency' and the idea of everything existing in a constant state of flux. Japanese philosophies that confront our understandings of space and honour 'nothingness' are important bases for all of her work to-date.

Kato's practice exists in a state of constant encounters: encounters with new spatial situations, encounters with new social contexts and encounters with new materials and processes. Parallel to this, recurring sites of inquiry revolve around social, psychological and environmental systems and structures. A wealth of recurring symbols and processes punctuate Kato's work, including the notion of the 'weed', the 'other', weaving of space and community, fermentation, composting and germination. These processes sustain a uniquely responsive methodology to seasons, environments, social contexts and opportunity. She is particularly focussed on the erosion of binary approaches to the world, challenging the artist / non-artist hierarchy and collapsing material hierarchies. In this way Kato actively deploys her practice as a political tool.

Kato's work openly embraces and questions the world. She embeds art in everyday life and habituates new ways of thinking and experiencing the world.
Dylan Martorell is a Melbourne-based artist and musician, his work typically involves a highly disciplined and refined level of detail, intertwined with ad hoc improvisation and a bowerbird aesthetic. Inspired by his global travels, Martorell’s key interests lie in the natural world, human ritual, ethnography and mythology. These interests manifest themselves in his art through an almost synesthetic combination of colour, pattern, sound and line, blending to create enchantingly intricate works of art.

During Boorhaman residency program’s public open day, artist-in-resident Dylan Martorell photographed a series of portraits. These portraits have been worked on in the artists studio, having site-specific backgrounds in-put where the green screen was. These works are a humorous, tender and slightly absurd document of the residency program’s public workshops and open day, they act as an extension to Martoell’s major works.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and by the Besen Family Foundation through Creative Partnerships Australia’s Cultural Fund.

This residency took place on Pbangerang and Yorta Yorta land, we acknowledge these people as the first and continuing custodians of the land and waters; we recognise sovereignty has never been ceded and pay respects to their Elders, past, present and becomming.


We acknowledge and pay respect to First Peoples across Australia and the Torres Strait, as the original custodians of land and waters. We acknowledge their unique ability to care for Country and deep spiritual connection to it. We honour Elders past, present and becomming. We acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

©2020 Residency Projects Inc.