Staff

Anita Larkin

Manager Anita has over 20 years’ experience in the arts sector and has held roles in not-for-profit, local government, environmental and independent community organisations including Multicultural Arts Victoria, Winton Wetlands, Greater Shepparton City Council, Benalla Rural City Council and Rural City of Wangaratta. Anita’s experience and skills span organisational development, community arts and cultural development, creative production, project management, programming and event management. She has also worked as an independent creative and consultant with a Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management from Deakin University, and an Associate Diploma of Music (Piano) from the Australian Music Examinations Board. Anita has a long track record in developing, resourcing and delivering significant creative and community-led creative projects and programs across all artforms. Embedded in her approach are principles of equity, self-determination and human rights. Community and collaboration are at the heart of her work with a focus on building more sustainable practices and outcomes for creatives and their communities. Anita is the Manager of Kaiela Arts. She is also a Board member with Shepparton Festival and is assisting with delivery of Greater Shepparton City Council’s Creative City Strategy.

Lyn Thorpe

Strategic Cultural Projects Lead Lyn is a proud Yorta Yorta woman. Cultural arts, history and identity have always been an important aspect of her life. She loves experimenting with new and different art techniques and styles including using digital media to blend photos, paintings and craft into a digital format. This process culminated in her first solo exhibition in Melbourne at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. In 2007, Lyn was highly commended for her emu feather skirt piece for the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards. Lyn’s work has also been featured in exhibitions at Koorie Heritage Trust, Kaiela Arts, Monash University Museum of Arts, Shepparton Art Museum, City Gallery and many more. Alongside her arts, Lyn is also a highly skilled and qualified educator and community cultural development worker. She has spent many years working for Department of Education in various Aboriginal engagement roles and has co-led a number of critical community arts projects that capture significant history for Aboriginal people in Melbourne and Shepparton. As the Strategic Cultural Projects Lead at Kaiela Arts, Lyn is currently working on a collaborative program with the Rumbalara Elders Facility that focuses on sharing cultural practices to enhance and sustain the wellbeing of local Elders and younger generations alike.

Tammy-Lee Atkinson

Project and Studio Coordinator Tammy-Lee is a Yorta Yorta artist and a proud Aboriginal woman who loves to learn and share personal and familial stories about her culture. Being able to express her own story through painting, drawing and photography, she attaches strong symbolic meaning to images that represent her traditional culture in contemporary art contexts. Tammy-Lee completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Institute of Koorie Education at Deakin University in 2016 and she is currently enrolled in Certificate 3, Visual Arts, Centre for Koorie Education, GOTAFE, Shepparton. Since 2014, Tammy-Lee has worked as a tutor in Aboriginal art and culture at Kaiela Arts and has presented works in group shows in Shepparton, Melbourne and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.

Tiarne Hall

Front of House and Digital Communications Coordinator Tiarne was born and raised on Wiradjuri Country in Wagga Wagga, and now lives and works on Yorta Yorta Country between Shepparton and Cobram. She is just one of many in her family who paint, including her two children. Tiarne joined Kaiela Arts in 2014 as an artist, and works across a range of mediums including painting, watercolour, drawing, and printmaking, and has also painted several murals around the region. She has worked closely with other Kaiela Arts artists to create ‘Yalka Lotjpa Nha’, a children’s Yorta Yorta language book. She uses her art to express her strong connection to country and family and her works have been featured in a number of arts fairs and exhibitions. You can read more about Tiarne’s artworks in her artist bio. In 2023, Tiarne took on a role as Front of House and Digital Communications Coordinator, where she manages our social media accounts and website, and runs our front-of-house operations during the week.

Lillie Walker

Here to greet you at Front of House is proud Yorta Yorta, Kukuyalanji and Girramay young woman, Lillie. Lillie is interested in all forms of art, coming from a family of artists across many generations, however, admittedly most enjoys performing arts, particularly her passion, singing. Throughout the years, Lillie has been involved in many musical pursuits some include, acting as a senior member of the Dhungala Childrens Choir, being Captain of her school choir in 2023, and most recently, acting as a vocal coach for the 2024 GVGS Senior Production. Working at Kaiela Arts during her Gap Year, Lillie is using this year to explore and learn more about the world. At Kaiela Arts she can do exactly that, learning more about her local community by meeting local Indigenous Artists, getting to learn more about the history of her culture and its different forms of expression, all whilst gaining insight into different factors of the workforce through the inclusion and makings of projects and programs.

Ally Knight

Galnyatj Education and Culture Coordinator Ally is a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman from Shepparton. She is also a proud mother to her son and after giving birth, Ally discovered her love and passion for weaving. She has since furthered her skills and creates a variety of items including wall hangings, bowls and jewellery and has started her own business, Mulana Earth. She loves using natural materials from the land and experimenting with new and different techniques and styles in art making including ceramics, painting and screen printing. Ally works at Kaiela Arts as the Galnyatj Education and Culture Coordinator, where she runs cultural workshops for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools on Yorta Yorta Country, through clay making, painting and storytelling. Ally is keen to continue exploring and learning about her culture through her work.

Tarli Dean-Atkinson

Art Centre Assistant Tarli is a proud Yorta Yorta and Moiraban woman born and raised in Shepparton. Tarli also has Wiradjuri connections through her paternal grandmother and is a proud mother of two boys. Tarli is passionate about family, culture, art, history and stories, and from a young age her passion for knowledge was sparked by immersion in community and culture, watching her Mum and listening to Elders. Tarli has a beauty therapy background with a Diploma in Beauty Therapy and started working with Kaiela Arts in 2021 as an artist for the annual Turtle Muster. She went on to secure a role working front of house at Kaiela Arts while also completing a Creative Indigenous Residency at the Shepparton Art Museum. In 2023 Tarli facilitated Kaiela Arts’ Turtle Muster Community Day and commenced a new role as Art Centre Assistant, which sees her undertaking a wide range of activities including hosting exhibition openings, presenting gallery talks, helping out in the studio with artist and community programs and workshops, and curating the window display in the gallery. She really enjoys working at Kaiela Arts and finds her work fulfilling and is excited for her future in the art space.

Chris Walker

Front of House Assistant Chris Walker was born and raised in the Greater Shepparton Area and is a proud Yorta Yorta man. He is excited to be working within the arts industry as he has spent most of his life growing up with a Mum who is a passionate painter and has been exploring ways to use his own skills within the field. He is passionate about helping Indigenous people within his community to gain new employment opportunities with sustainable outcomes and hopes to create long-standing relationships with local Indigenous organisations and businesses. He enjoys camping, hiking and exploring all throughout the different terrain in Australia and is an avid reader and writer. He is currently working as the Indigenous Residency Coordinator in the engagement team at the Shepparton Art Museum and also works at Kaiela Arts on Front of House on Saturdays. He hopes to be a part of creating safe spaces which form bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, where all people can feel seen, connected and inspired through play, creativity, innovation and everything else the arts space offers.

Board

Robert "Bobby" Nicholls

President Robert ‘Bobby’ Nicholls is a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, and Wadjabalok man and the nephew of Sir Douglas Nicholls. Bobby was a Director of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency for 10 years, first joining in 1981. Bobby has also worked in community run organisations such as the Aborigines Advancement League and the Aboriginal Housing Board of Victoria. Bobby is one of the founding members of Yarnin’ Pictures, formed by his passion to document Elders’ stories whilst training Aboriginal youth in the art of filmmaking. Bobby’s hope and vision for the future is: “In 40 years, I have one wish in my lifetime, whilst I’m still surviving, I hope that no child is ever removed from their parents. And I’m hoping that with greater education for our people, especially our younger families of today, that we learn from our mistakes.”

Belinda Briggs

Vice President Belinda is a Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba woman, living and working in the Dungala Kaiela (Murray Goulburn) Region in Northern Victoria. Belinda is a writer and curator at the Shepparton Art Museum, where her curatorial projects include the major exhibition Lin Onus: The Land Within, and the Indigenous Ceramic Award. She also holds an engagement role with the Kaiela Institute as Nanyak Adviser– Strategy and Communications. This role facilitates the integration and continuity of inherited values and principles inspired by Nanyak, which encapsulates the history, events, legacies, relationship and spiritual essence upheld by Yorta Yorta Ancestors, families and elders in the past and present for the generations of today and tomorrow. She is passionate about her community, particularly her contributions to the Rumbalara Football Netball Club and as the Vice President of Kaiela Arts.

Troy Firebrace

Board Member Troy is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung man working as the artist and director of Firebrace Designs Pty Ltd. He also works as the Aboriginal Education Officer for Catholic Education Sandhurst. His passion for arts and education forms the basis of his career, having completed a Bachelor of Arts, Major in Fine Arts and a Master of Education. Troy strives to enact change within the education sector through better understanding of culture whilst utilising his art practice, in the contemporary form, to explore new and exciting ways to create works that express not only his culture but also his identity as an artist.

Frances Nicholson

Frances Nicholson is a Yorta Yorta/Wemba Wemba woman, who was born in Swan Hill Wemba-Wemba country, and over the years has travelled and lived in Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland. Frances now lives in Mooroopna on Yorta-Yorta country, her mother’s birthplace, and her home for the past 15 years. Frances has worked in management and teaching roles across the education, youth and community sectors and is currently working at Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative, within the family services sector. Frances is a talented abstract artist and when time permits, she loves to paint and express herself through splatter effect, where colours form the mood. Her art is about relaxation and expression, and has seen her participate with many projects at Kaiela Arts including exhibitions, creating a design for the granite and brass inlays in the floors the new SAM building, and a projection commission for White Night 2022 in Shepparton.

Chloe Jones

Currently based on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm (Melbourne) furthering her studies & career in the arts, Chloe was born and raised on Yorta Yorta country in a small rural town in Victoria. She grew up in an environment where Creativity was accessible and was always surrounded by many creative influences in her family. Her strong sense of culture was instilled in her from a young age and is primary source of inspiration for her work. Chloe hopes to help educate wider communities in Australia to understand that Contemporary Indigenous Art is a crucial element in preserving First Nations culture and knowledge. Through connecting Art with culture and storytelling, Chloe’s goal is to help elevate First Nations voices and support her communities. She hopes to continue making meaningful connections, educate, inspire and support others with the guidance of her elders, family and community using her cultural beliefs as a driving force.

Alice Petitt

Alice Pettit is a proud Wemba Wemba, Ngiyampaa, Wiradjuri woman and is a mother to three young boys who she shares with Yorta Yorta man, Ash Miller. Alice is the Granddaughter of Darcy Pettit and Marie Murray and grew up alongside the Murray River, on Latje Latje Country, Robinvale. She is currently working at the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health as both the Project Officer in Aboriginal Health, and Indigenous Primary Health Practitioner and previously held roles at Rumbalara Football Netball Club in Algabonyah Employment Program and at Greater Shepparton City Council. She has a Diploma of Business, Bachelor of Human Services and is currently in her final year of Master of Social Work at La Trobe University.

Dixon Patten

Dixon Patten (Bitja) is a proud Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara, Dhudhuroa man with bloodlines from Wemba Wemba, Barapa Barapa, Djab Wurrung, Wiradjuri, Yuin, Wodi Wodi, Wolgal, Monaro. As an artist, designer, mentor, influencer and a strong community advocate, Dixon’s artistic practice is informed through a strong cultural value that his family and community have imprinted into his mind, heart, and spirit. His approach to his engagements is much bigger than an artistic visual; it is about the gifts and the influential shifts that creativity brings. Dixon’s narratives often delve deep into familial history, often in celebration and exploration of culture and connection and his willingness to share and learn are informed by the art of Deep Listening, or in his native Yorta Yorta language ‘Gulpa Ngawul’. This practice has guided many of Dixon’s expressions by uncovering the layers, exploring trauma, exploring grief, reclaiming culture, bridging gaps, being accountable, learning to understand and also challenge systems, influencing spaces and learning to celebrate self. He takes his role as a storyteller seriously and feels humbled to continue this strong aspect of Aboriginal culture.

Dierdre Robertson

Dierdre grew up in Ballarat on Wadawurrung Country, the eldest of four kids with three brothers. She undertook further education in Melbourne before working in local schools, including Mooroopna Primary School and the former Shepparton Special School. She worked in a regional early intervention role, based in Shepparton, supporting families who had young children with a hearing loss. Dierdre was Practice Manager for a local Audiology clinic during which time she also worked at the Audiology Department at the local hospital, providing support to families whose child was undergoing diagnosis for hearing loss. Dierdre has two daughters and lives south of Kyabram, and in her spare time enjoys reading, gardening and barracking for Geelong. Being involved in the Board has deepened Dierdre’s appreciation and passion for the local community and arts. Dierdre has been on the Board of Kaiela Arts since 2017 and has been Secretary since October 2020. She stepped in to support Kaiela Arts, working full time in a voluntary capacity, from October 2021 until April 2022.

Michael Tynan

Public Officer Michael is a tertiary qualified professional, including a PhD in social anthropology, with extensive experience in participatory action research, mixed methods evaluation, policy development, community development, executive and project management. For more than 30 years he has led and fostered collaborations that built the evidence base for frameworks and programs to make meaningful change in the lives of communities with particular concern for addressing inequalities. He has a long connection with the local community having undertaken his PhD research with the Rumbalara Football Netball Club, supported local Aboriginal leadership in their engagement with governments while CEO of the Strategic Planning and Policy Unit (now the Kaiela Institute), and supported the establishment of Kaiela Arts including as one of the foundation directors. Michael joined the Board in 2011 and is our Public Officer.