The case for a major museum of Indigenous art and culture in Sydney

Petrina Bedford “Djalala & Wandjinas. Wandjinas with boundary stones on their bodies. Acrylic on canvas 45 x 45cms. This and other works from Mowanjum Arts and Maningrida Arts and Culture are available. We can ship artworks anywhere. Go to ARTISTS page for catalogues.

Petrina Bedford “Djalala & Wandjinas. Wandjinas with boundary stones on their bodies. Acrylic on canvas 45 x 45cms. This and other works from Mowanjum Arts and Maningrida Arts and Culture are available. We can ship artworks anywhere. Go to ARTISTS page for catalogues.

Our current show Mowanjum to Maningrida is the first Australian Indigenous show we have held here at Dungog Contemporary. An area of the visual arts we have always loved, it is a real privilege to be able to spend the quiet time during the week surrounded by these beautiful paintings and prints from Mowanjum Arts in the Kimberley and the superlative fibre works from Maningrida Arts and Culture NT.

The response to this show has been wonderful, from local high school kids and the community on the whole, to regular and new clients of the gallery. We organised a screening of Nick Wrathall and Stephanie King’s new film Undermined: Tales From The Kimberley to accompany the show, which opened eyes for many who came as to the true meaning of “Native Title” and the fact that in Australia economic growth is regarded as more important than anyone or anything, a dire situation for a nation once regarded as progressive.

This short film looks at Quai du Branly the museum for Indigenous arts in Paris. The film deals with Indigenous Australian art, Quai du Branly with art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Why on earth don’t we have a museum specifically for Australian Indigenous art anywhere in Australia on this kind of scale? Australia has enormous collections of artifacts locked up in the bowels of our museums. When you consider how beautiful Quai du Branly is, the enormous crowds who visit it and the regard with which Australian Indigenous art is held overseas, the fact that we don’t is a national embarrasment. The best of contemporary Australian Indigenous art is some of the most relevant artwork happening upon the planet today. Barangaroo ( a wonderful aboriginal place name ) has three small nods to Australian Indigenous culture, a site squandered. I have always thought it should have been a beautifully landscaped native parkland, greenspace with a museum in the middle of the city. With a chance to have had a uniquely Australian building by an architect such as Glenn Murcutt, Australia’s only Pritzker Prize winner, as a museum of Australian Indigenous arts and culture. Instead we got a billionaire trust fundee’s monument to himself, a largely unwanted gambling casino and ill considered apartment buildings for foreign investors.

Dungog Contemporary acknowledges the land of the Gringai people on which the gallery stands. This video may contain images of people deceased.