2022 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Alumnus of the Year
Master of Visual Arts
Uncle Michael ‘Mick’ Harding is a poet, cultural activist, educator and artist specialising in wood sculpting, printmaking and giftware. He belongs to the Mansfield region Yowong-Illam-Baluk and Nattarak Baluk clans of the Taungurung people and is dedicated to protecting and reinvigorating culture within his community.
Mick has served on various boards including the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and the Taungurung Land and Waters Council Victoria, and through working closely with the Taungurung people, has developed a strong understanding of Indigenous culture, and learned to appreciate the ties between the land, its flora and fauna, and the importance of protecting the intricate and delicate relationships that exist there.
Drawing inspiration from the legends of his people, Mick has devoted years to honing his woodcraft and drawing, learning specialist techniques to create artifacts as his ancestors did with his own individual style.
In 2016 he graduated with a Master of Visual Arts from Federation University, Gippsland. Previously he graduated from Monash University Gippsland campus with an Associate Diploma of Aboriginal Studies in 1988 and a Master of Fine Arts (Printmaking) in 2012.
Mick’s art is a way for him to pass on his knowledge in accessible ways, reflected in the narratives that inform his works which detail the development of each piece linking the viewer and Indigenous culture. For his woodcraft, Mick also details the source of the timber used, linking the artwork to the environment it came from.
In 2005 Mick established family business, Ngarga Warendj –Dancing Wombat, known for products made by hand or through ethical licensing agreements. His work can be found in numerous collections and has been gifted to visiting dignitaries from around the world. In 2015 the Premier of Victoria commissioned Mick to make a gift for the birth of Princess Charlotte. Trophies he created have also been presented at the Australian Open Tennis.
Mick’s unique insights into art and the way his relationship with Country informs his art practice have been central to his success as an artist and community leader.