"Not Content to Remain Quiet" / Contemporary Indigenous Art at the NGA

Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery, Canberra: "Un-quiet" works for contemplation and confrontation.

Goofy Bore     (1983) - Batik Textile (detail) by Nora Kemarre Moore, Amatyerre people, Northern Territory

Goofy Bore (1983) - Batik Textile (detail) by Nora Kemarre Moore, Amatyerre people, Northern Territory

Not content to remain quiet, statements regarding racism and race relations, oppression and subjugation, dispossession and marginalisation, endurance, determination and survival, rebellion and guerilla warfare are all artistically explored in explicit detail. History is told from an Indigenous perspective by artists who have excavated the archives and unearthed oral histories; their voices engage with the contemporary discourse

Above is a curatorial writing on the wall accompanying the dramatic contemporary Indigenous exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia. This powerful collection runs the full visual and narrative gamut from whimsy to rage... There are political, social, and environmental injustices; power, subtlety and immense beauty. "The air in Australia is thick with racism" (Vernon Ah Kee). Church and mission are interwoven into many of these diverse artistic statements. These photographs are a quick intuitive scan, skimmed out of an overwhelmingly vast range of work on display. Photos taken by Catherine Schieve at the National Gallery of Australia , Canberra / July 4 2018.

Fiona FOLEY / Badtjala People
/ born 1964, Queensland
Stud Gins
2003 Brisbane, Queensland
synthetic polymer paint on wool fabric
Below: details of two out of a series of large block-printed texts on blanket material

Stud Gins  , by Fiona Foley

Stud Gins, by Fiona Foley


Western Arrarnta/Lurritja peoples / born 1946 Australia
Kaltjipuntjila (Baptism)
2007 Hermannsburg, Northern Territory
hand-built painted terracotta
Click to enlarge images.

Vernon AH KEE

Kuku Lalanji/Yidinji/Waanji/Gugu Yimithirr/Koko Berrin Peoples
born 1965 Innisfail, North QLD
If I Was White
2002 Brisbane, Queensland
Satin laminated Polypropylene
Below: 6 out of numerous wall panels. Click to enlarge images.

If I was White   - detail - by Vernon Ah Kee - this text underlies all the others.

If I was White - detail - by Vernon Ah Kee - this text underlies all the others.

/ Yorta Yorta people
1948-1996 Australia
Barmah Forest, 1994 Melbourne
synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Barmah Forest -   by Lin Onus

Barmah Forest - by Lin Onus

/ 1949-2012 / Australia
Deaths in Custody, 1990
Spencer Region, South Australia
synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Deaths in Custody -   by Trevor Nickolls

Deaths in Custody - by Trevor Nickolls

/ Alyawarr people
born 1943 Artetyerre [Harts Range] / Northern Territory, Australia
Artetyerre / 2008 Alice Springs, Northern Territory
synthetic polymer paint on linen

Artetyerre -   by Billy Benn Perrurle

Artetyerre - by Billy Benn Perrurle


Wik/Kunjen peoples
born 1044, Kendle River country, Queensland Australia
Yalgamulchen #2
2012 Aurukun, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
natural earth pigments, charcoal and synthetic binder on canvas

Yalgamulchen #2 (detail) - by Mavis Ngallametta

- all photos by Catherine Schieve / National Gallery of Australia, July 4 2018

Earth - by Derek Walcott

Let the day grow on you....


Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.


- photos above by Catherine Schieve: 1) looking out at green landscape from within the burned-out remnants of a space telescope destroyed in the firestorm of 2003 at Mt. Stromlo Australia; 2) the land and sky near Tidbinbilla, Australia.

- poem "Earth" by Derek Walcott sourced from

Derek Walcott - St. Lucia & UK (1930-2017)

Derek Walcott - St. Lucia & UK (1930-2017)


Altar/d Adamstown - Contemporary Art in the Sanctuary / Rod Pattenden

Altar/d Adamstown - Contemporary Art in the Sanctuary / Rod Pattenden

During May of this year Adamstown Uniting Church became the venue for a series of art installations that is being held over a period of six months by a range of respected and diverse Australian artists. The series is entitled ‘Altar/d’ and allows for a conversation with art works that are presented as the central visual focus for the worship space.