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Canberra Today 6°/6° | Friday, July 1, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

NGA moves indigenous poles to upstairs gallery


Ramingining artists, Djon Mundine, Bandjalung people, The Aboriginal Memorial, 1987-88.

IN a move likely to cause disappointment in the general public, the National Gallery of Australia has relocated the Aboriginal Memorial poles from the entrance area to Gallery 9 on Level 1.

The move is part of the first stage of a revitalisation project and staff say it will help make the most important work in the national collection central to all visitors’ art experience.

The gallery has put a different slant on the move, with director Nick Mitzevich saying, “it has been heartening to work closely with the community over the past three years to ensure the work is presented at the heart of the gallery.”

Commissioned by the NGA’s inaugural director, James Mollison, before the Australian Bicentenary in 1988, The Aboriginal Memorial commemorates all First Nations people who lost their lives defending their land since European colonisation. It launched at the 1988 Sydney Biennale before moving to the National Gallery later that year.

From left, Bruce Johnson-McLean, Mitzevich and Mundine.

An installation of 200 hollow log coffins from Central Arnhem Land, the concept was the brainchild of Bandjalung artist and curator Djon Mundine, who worked with 43 artists from nine clan groups from Ramingining and surrounding communities.

“An enormous crime has been committed and is remembered here,” Mundine said of the concept, “All artworks are memorials; mnemonic devices, however, this artwork speaks to a wider social consciousness and a need to be grieving, if nationally we are to grow as an adult society and nation.”

The gallery’s Bruce-Johnson McLean, says, “We are committed to keeping this an active memorial space long into the future,”

The public is invited to a singing in of The Aboriginal Memorial in its new location on Wednesday, June 1 , 10am-11.30am bookings essential here


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Helen Musa

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