Terra nullius by Gordon Bennett (1989)

Australia’s colonial history, as depicted in art, is being re-examined in two unprecedented large-scale exhibitions at the NGV Australia from the 15 March.

The two exhibitions, Colony: Australia 1770 - 1861 and Colony: Frontier Wars show different aspects of Australia’s history, the first being about the development of European art, craft and design produced in the colony and the second, about the historical and contemporary indigenous art in a powerful response to colonisation and reveals how aboriginal people responded to the arrival of Europeans with art that is diverse, powerful and compelling.

Selected works from Colony: Australia 1770 - 1861

Colony: Frontier Wars features more than 200 works and will recognise the makers of indigenous cultural objects by crediting the makers as ‘once known’ rather than the ‘unknown’, as was the custom in the past. This exhibition also includes the painting by esteemed 19th century Wurundjeri leader, activist and artist, William Barak.

In direct contrast to this, Colony: Australia 1770 – 1861 includes over 600 diverse and significant works, including examples of historical Aboriginal cultural objects, early watercolours, illustrated books, drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture and photographs, to a selection of furniture, fashion, textiles, decorative arts, and even taxidermy specimens.

Selected works from Colony: Frontier Wars

Examining our colonial history and the art that emerged during and in response to this period, both exhibitions seem to seek more understanding and discussion around what is the history that Australia has experienced till today and how we might find more dialogue around our history to lead us into our future.

Photos courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria.


Dates: Colony: Australia 1770 -1861 (15 March - 15 July)

Colony: Frontier Wars (15 March - 2 September)

Location: NGV Australia (at Federation Square)

NGV Website

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