About the Program

Saison Foundation and Footscray Community Arts First Nations Art and Cultural Exchange is an ongoing international partnership that seeks to build a First Nations led framework for artist exchange emphasising Indigenous protocols, cultural safety, community connection, knowledge sharing and collaboration.  

The project is a first for the Saison Foundation, having never previously facilitated a Japanese First Nations project/exchange. The collaboration has evolved into a First Nations led process that has facilitated a deeper engagement with cultural protocol/safety, relationship building and historical, political and cultural exchange.  

The primary stage of this engagement involved an online Symposium in March 2022 – titled Looking Back on 50 Years of Indigenous Cultural and Artistic Activities. This event initiated relationship building and mutual understanding between members of the Kulin Nations and Ainu Community. 

From this it became apparent that the First Nations Elders would benefit from an in-person emissary trip to each other’s country. Elder in Residence Uncle Larry Walsh and Senior Producer Indigenous Programs Dan Mitchell visited Japan in September 2022.  

The residency trip was an overwhelming success, creating a deeper connection and appreciation of the Ainu communities experience, culture and perspective.  

In March 2023, Ainu artist Mayunkiki and Art Translator Konoko Tamura visited Victoria to orientate and connect culturally with our community here on Kulin Nations land. It also highlighted how the social and political journeys of the Ainu mirror much of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait struggle in Australia.  

Now, the Arts and Cultural Exchange will build on the engagement through a 4 week exchange in Japan and Victoria. This will provide the specially selected Victorian Aboriginal and Japan based Ainu Artists a supportive, enriched framework for creative development. 

Find out more about Saison Foundation: https://www.saison.or.jp/en/ & https://ainu-upopoy.jp/en/

Presenter Interview プレゼンターインタビュー
Pursuing dialogue between the Indigenous and Immigrant communities, Footscray Community Arts


Read Japanese Article here: https://performingarts.jpf.go.jp/J/pre_interview/2302/1.html

First Nations Art and Cultural Exchange Presented by Saison Foundation and Footscray Community Arts

Supported by the Australia Council and the Saison Foundation, Tokyo, Japan. 

Artist Exchange participants

Ngioka Bunda-Heath

Ngioka Bunda-Heath is Wakka Wakka, Ngugi from Queensland; and Birrpai from New South Wales. She graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, as the first Aboriginal woman in dance.

Ngioka has received both the Hutchinson Indigenous Fellowship and Residency and the Chloe Munro AO/Lucy Guerin Inc Independent Artist fellowship.

She works for Bangarra Dance Theatre in “Rekindling” their youth education program; and is the First Peoples Partnership Coordinator at Chunky Move.

Ngioka has performed works by Mariaa Randall, Sarah Aiken and Rebecca Jensen, Amrita Hepi and Lucy Guerin Inc. Internationally, she’s participated in dance conferences, festivals, and residencies in New Caledonia, France, Canada, and America.

Ngioka’s choreographic work includes Blood Quantum (2019), Birrpai (2021) awarded Dance Best Duo/Ensemble at the Greenroom Awards, Bridge (2022) and Footprints (2022).

(Artist│Singer│Ainu Language and Cultural Specialist)

Born in 1982 in Asahikawa, on the island of Hokkaidō in Japan, Mayunkiki’s practice arises from her identity as an Ainu musician and artist. She is a member of Marewrew, a vocal group whose activities center around the rebirth and passing on of the traditional Ainu song Upopo – a practice rooted in rhythmic patterns and the signature style of singing in a trance-like chorus. She has recently undertaken research on Sinuye, or traditional Ainu tattoos, conducting interviews and collecting oral histories. Sinuye histories and memories are explored through talking and reperforming the action of tattooing on the face using paint.

She has been presenting her projects at various exhibitions such as: “Siknure – Let me live”, solo show at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2022),  “SIKNU”, Reborn-Art Festival 2021-22, Ishinomaki, Japan (2021), “SINRIT teoro wano ainu menoko sinrici an=hunara”, solo show at CAI03, Sapporo, Japan (2021), “Sinuye – Ainu Women and her tatoo”, two-person show with Hiroshi Ikeda, Tobiu Art Festival 2020 (2020), and 22nd Biennale of Sydney, NIRIN (2020).

She also participates in several creative projects related to Ainu culture as an adviser or singer, and works as an Ainu language teacher.


1982年生まれ。北海道出身・在住。アイヌの伝統歌を歌う「マレウレウ」「アペトゥンペ」のメンバー。2021年よりソロ活動開始。音楽分野だけでなく国内外のアートフェスティバルに参加。アイヌ語講師、札幌国際芸術祭(SIAF)2017バンドメンバー(企画チーム)、SIAF 2020ではアイヌ文化コーディネーターをつとめる。2018年より、自身のルーツと美意識に纏わる興味・関心からアイヌの伝統的な文身「シヌイェ」の研究を開始。現代におけるアイヌの存在を、あくまで個人としての観点から探求し、表現している。2020年には、第22回シドニー・ビエンナーレ「NIRIN」に参加。同年、写真家の池田宏と「シヌイェ アイヌ女性の入墨を巡るプロジェクト」(北海道・白老)、2021年「シンリッ アイヌ女性のルーツを探る出発展」(北海道・札幌、CAI03)、2022年「Siknure – Let me live」(イギリス・バーミンガム、Ikon gallery)を開催。


Canadian Blue Cabin Exchange

In addition to our Saison Foundation Exchange, we are also partnering with Grunt Gallery to offer the Blue Cabin Exchange residency in Canada. This residency provides artists with the opportunity to live and work in the unceded lands and waters of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

If you are interested in learning more about the Canadian Blue Cabin Exchange, please visit https://footscrayarts.com/blue-cabin/.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for both the Saison Foundation Exchange and the Blue Cabin Exchange residencies?
Yes – but you will need to state your preference as you cannot attend both.
Applications are now closed.

What are my responsibilities as an artist in residence? 
You are representing both yourself as an individual practitioner and the Footscray Community Arts and should be mindful of the important legacy and relationship building aspect of your residency will have for future exchanges.

How long can I stay in residence?
The stipulated time. 4 weeks. 

Can I extend my residency?
This can be negotiated with the host organisation and will come at own cost.  

Will I do a showing/exhibition of my residency project?  
Expectations are that the artist will be available for at least two public facing activities during the residency. Talks, workshops, yarning circles, showings, readings, podcast, interviews etc, depending on the artists preference and practice.

Any outcome from the residency should preference the host organisations, Saison and FCA, as presenters.

I have other questions not covered here. Who can I contact? 
If you have any further questions please contact Indigenous Cultural Program Producer Dan Mitchell at dan@footscrayarts.com or 0417 011 215.