The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with Artbank, the Australian government’s contemporary art rental and initiative board, will on April 12 present a travelling exhibition titled “Message Stick: Indigenous Identity in Urban Australia” at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
Curated by Carrie Kibbler, the exhibition is a selection of works by 11 artists living in urban areas throughout Australia and will run until May 6.
The last week of the exhibition will be part of the Harare International Festival of the Arts.
“Drawn from the active urban art scene in Australia, the exhibition features a selection of significant works by artists at the forefront of contemporary arts in Australia,” said gallery executive director, Doreen Sibanda.
“There is a deep sense of grieving, dislocation and loss yet also offering humour, energy, optimism and most importantly, a moving political and social perspective of Australian history.”
Sibanda said the artworks were strongly influenced by the experiences of “stolen generations” of children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander descent.
They were children removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments in the period between approximately 1869 and 1969.
“The works are dynamic and adaptable, presenting a fresh view of contemporary indigenous identity, reflecting the enormous contributions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait island communities to modern Australian society,” she said.
Works to be featured during this exhibition include acrylic on canvas pieces like the late Ian Abdula’s Mother With Fish, Adam Hill’s The Bigger Picture and Harry Wedge’s Alcohol Cemetery, Your Time Has Run Out and Star Spirit as well as Always Right by Richard Bell. Other pieces include Native Gold and The Heart’s Tale by Danie Mellor, Reko Rennie’s Message Stick, The Ungrateful by Jurie Dowring, Darren Siwes’ Gold Puella, Silver Puella and Bronze Puella as well as Christian Thomson’s Hunting Ground and Robert Campbell’s Please Welfare Don’t Take My Children.
“The works, which are in most cases personal and provocative, have been produced during the last 25 years with striking images that have at their core the stories of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and cultures,” said Sibanda.