Healing land, remembering Country, on display at Elizabeth Farm from 14 November, provides an exciting opportunity for Sydney Living Museums to further engage visitors in the Indigenous stories present throughout our sites.

Sydney Living Museums is delighted to present Healing land, remembering Country, a powerful work by Kuku Yalanji artist Tony Albert, at Elizabeth Farm. 

Previously displayed on Cockatoo Island as part of this year’s Biennale of Sydney, the wooden ‘greenhouse nursery’ is 4 metres high and 8 metres in diameter, and contains woven baskets made by artists from Bula’bula Arts, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Numbulwar Numburindi Arts and Tjanpi Desert Weavers in Central Australia, and native plants supplied by the Muru Mittigar nursery. 

Albert describes Healing land, remembering Country as a project ‘full of love and reflection’. It expands on a work that he created in 2018 at the site of the former Blacktown Native Institution where he collaborated with local children to reimagine the lives of those of a similar age who had been placed there nearly 200 years ago. They gifted messages on paper embedded with local plant seeds that eventually degraded into the soil to regenerate. This ‘memory exchange’ was a symbolic gesture of intergenerational healing at a site of trauma to Aboriginal people. Healing land, remembering Country similarly invites the public to engage with the complex histories of place and sites of trauma.

In presenting the work at Elizabeth Farm, SLM acknowledges the role that Parramatta – the first site of the Native Institution (1814–20) – and the institution’s governing committee had in the systemic institutionalisation and control of Aboriginal people, the impacts of which continue today. One of the members of the committee was Hannibal Macarthur, nephew of John Macarthur, owner of Elizabeth Farm.

Healing land, remembering Country was unveiled at Elizabeth Farm for our NAIDOC Week event on Saturday 14 November.

Throughout the presentation period, a range of ‘memory exchange’ experiences will be on offer, including yarning circles, workshops and talks. Bookmark this page for the full program and further details.

About the artist

Tony Albert

Tony Albert’s practice explores contemporary legacies of colonialism in ways that prompt audiences to contemplate elements of the human condition. Mining imagery and source material from across the globe, Albert draws on both personal and collective histories to explore the ways in which optimism might be utilised to overcome adversity. His practice is concerned with identity and the ascribing of social labels; unpacking what it means to judge and be judged in the absence of recognition or understanding.

Albert’s technique and imagery are distinctly contemporary, displacing traditional Australian Aboriginal aesthetics with a kind of urban conceptuality. Appropriating textual references from sources as diverse as popular music, film, fiction, and art history, Albert plays with the tension arising from the visibility – and, in turn, the invisibility – of Aboriginal people across the news media, literature, and the visual world. Central to this way of working is Albert’s expansive collection of Aboriginalia (a term the artist coined to describe kitschy objects and images that feature naive portrayals of Aboriginality).

In 2014, Albert was awarded the Basil Sellers Art Prize and the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. In 2016, Albert was awarded the Fleurieu Art Prize, for The hand you’re dealt. In 2015, Albert was awarded a prestigious residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York and unveiled a major new monument in Sydney’s Hyde Park dedicated to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service. In 2018, a survey of Albert’s work, Visible, was presented at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Albert’s work can be seen in major national and international museums and private collections.

Muru Mittigar 

The native Australian grasses and plants in the greenhouse can be found throughout NSW and other parts of Australia. These plants were sourced by the artist from Muru Mittigar, a Native Nursery and Cultural Education Centre located in Llandilo in north-west Sydney. Muru Mittigar is a Darug organisation that seeks to create a better understanding of Aboriginal culture in the wider community; to create new jobs, to develop workplace skills training and to increase sustained employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

Attribution

Courtesy Tony Albert and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney.

Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts and Create NSW, and generous assistance from The Medich Foundation.

Hand-woven baskets by: Bula’bula Arts – Evonne Munuyngu; Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts – Dolly Dhimburra Bidingal, Joyce Milpuna Bidingal, Mary Dhapalany, Mavis Marrkula Djuliping, Linda Gagati, Caroline Gulmindilly, Kathy Guyula, Helen Djaypila Guyula, Meredith Marika; Numbulwar Numburindi Arts – Nicola Wilfred; Tjanpi Desert Weavers – Munatji Brumby, Maureen Cullinan, Niningka Lewis, Puna Yanima.

14 November 2020 - 14 March 2021
Free with general museum entry
Free with general museum entry

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