indigenous art

Jonathan Jones: Barrangal Dyara

September 22, 2016
Prototype ceramic shields on site at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Photo: Emma Pike/Kaldor Public Art Projects

Jonathan Jones’s Barrangal Dyara (Skin and Bones) is one of the most ambitious art projects ever seen in this city, and one of the most ephemeral. It acts as a massive aide-memoire to public consciousness, reminding us of what has been buried and forgotten within little more than a century. Yet the physical form of … More

Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2016

September 10, 2016
Noel McKenna Animals I have known 2015-16 © Noel McKenna

In its first incarnation the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial concentrated on landscape. For the second Biennial, subtitled Close to Home, curator Anne Ryan has come up with something much cooler, namely “narrative based on memory and experience”. This must be why nobody could tell me the theme of this year’s show when I asked. “It’s … More

Kim McKay

March 11, 2016
The former entry reimagined, now hosting the Wild Planet exhibition. Photo Stuart Humphreys

Nobody seems to have told Kim McKay that the casting for the new Wonder Woman movie is over. In less than two years at the helm of the Australian Museum she has built a new entrance for $4 million, completely rehung the galleries devoted to natural history and indigenous Australia, dropped entrance charges for children, … More


February 11, 2016
Mask made from turtle shell plates, Mer, Torres Strait islands. Acquired by an unknown collector before 1855.

‘Civilisation’ is a concept that has changed beyond recognition over the past century. To the pioneering ethnographers of the Victorian era, tribal cultures were merely stages on the way to the civilised state. Viewed as backward, impoverished and superstitious, it was accepted that such communities would wither and die as they fell under the spell … More

Right Here Now

January 15, 2016
Jessie Pangas, 'House of Congress', 2015, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 91.5×91.5 cm. Courtesy the artist

Regional galleries: the crisis that never ends. A few weeks ago I was invited to Canberra by the Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House to view a show called Right Here Now: A Powerful Regional Voice in our Democracy. This event, which has been put together by freelance curators, Holly Williams, Ivan Muñiz Reed … More

8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

November 27, 2015
PUSHPA KUMARI, India b.1969, Tsunami (2015) Purchased 2015 with funds from Rick and Carolle Wilkinson through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation

If a week is a long time in politics, three years is an eternity. At the opening of the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial in 2012, the Queensland Art Gallery was trying to forge a relationship with a new Premier who didn’t turn up for the launch; and an Arts Minister who admitted she’d never been … More

Wiradjuri Ngurambanggu & Jonathan Jones

November 6, 2015
Nicole Foreshew, Remain, 2015, Clay and iron oxide, Images copyright and courtesy the artist.

This weekend is the last opportunity to see Sculpture By the Sea. I can’t justify a full-scale review at this late stage but in its 19th year the event’s popularity shows no sign of waning. When I walked from Bondi to Tamarama one afternoon there was the usual hubbub of foreign languages, the relentless clicking … More

Din Q. Lê: Erasure, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2011

August 27, 2011
Dinh Q. Lê Erasure, 2011 digital video (still) Courtesy the artist and Sàn Art Independent Artist Space, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

It was astonishing to learn that in a recent opinion poll Australians rated border protection as a more important issue than health, education, transport or housing. This is one of those statistical miracles that testify to our growing sense of social paranoia and the power of political scare campaigns. The facts are well known but … More

Laverty 2, Newcastle Region Art Gallery

May 28, 2011
William Robinson, The sand ziggurat, Kingscliff (1995) 137.5 x 183.0 cm oil on canvas

All the talk this week has been about the Kaldor collection. This high-profile donation has prompted a massive operation on the belly of the Art Gallery of NSW, with architect, Andrew Andersens, playing a familiar role as the leading cosmetic surgeon of Australian museums. The makeover has transformed a dingy storage area into an elegant, … More

Tommy Watson & the politics of the indigenous art market

January 1, 2010

Yannima Tommy Watson is said to have painted his first picture in 2001, in the community of Irrunytju, twelve kilometers south-west of the tri-border, where South Australia meets Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The white man’s borders don’t mean much to the inhabitants of this remote settlement, also known as Wingellina, but it is … More