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Daniel Boyd's Untitled

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the following contains the names of people who are deceased.

Untitled by Daniel Boyd, Kudjala/Gangalu/Kuku-Yalanji/Waka Waka/Gubbi Gubbi/Wangerriburra/Bandjalung man, is a deeply personal work in the Parliament House Art Collection which reflects the artist’s ancestral links to the First World War. The work commemorates Boyd’s great-great grandfather, William Bert Brown, by representing the landscape that Brown would have experienced while serving in the First World War. Boyd reinterprets the scenes through his distinctive vision and techniques drawing on from his Indigenous heritage.

To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Australian War Memorial commissioned the Anzac Centenary Print Portfolio, which comprises contemporary artistic responses to the First World War by five Australian and five New Zealand artists. Boyd completed a residency at the Australian War Memorial to complete his contribution to the portfolio.
Boyd wanted to use the work to trace his own history, and explore the experiences of Indigenous service people. He researched his own family history within the military and discovered that his great-great grandfather,

(William Bert) Brown had enlisted from the Barambah–Cherbourg Mission in July 1917 at the age of 18 and was sent to Egypt the following January to join the 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment. The regiment had more than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members, the most of any unit in the Australian Imperial Force.1

Boyd also drew inspiration from other works in the Australian War Memorial Collection, specifically the sketches of Otho Hewett (1887-1942), a Lighthorse soldier who drew many of the places that the 11th Regiment, along with William Bert Brown, would have been. Through these works Boyd was able to connect with and explore the landscapes where his great-great grandfather served.

The final work re-interprets one of Hewett’s sketches of Magdhaba in Egypt, a landscape that William Bert Brown would have experienced. Boyd has layered the image with black woodcut dots, to create an optical illusion that reveals different elements from whichever angle it is viewed. Boyd calls these ‘lenses’ and has done this “to imply that our view of history is only ever partial, selective, and increasingly coloured and obscured by memory.”2 Much of Boyd’s work utilises historical photographs and merges them with motifs and styles from the Western Desert painting traditions to explore impacts of colonisation on Indigenous culture, and the ways in which we remember stories and history.

Daniel Boyd
Daniel Boyd (born 1982), Kudjala/Gangalu/Kuku-Yalanji/Waka Waka/Gubbi Gubbi/Wangerriburra/Bandjalung man, is a prolific Indigenous contemporary artist who satirises and re-interprets colonial history through sculpture, painting, and installation with distinctly traditional Indigenous techniques. Born in Cairns, he began painting as a child and selling his paintings for pocket money. In 2005 he graduated from the Australian National University’s School of Art and Design, and in the same year had his first solo exhibition Polly Don’t Want No Cracker Neither where he showcased his much acclaimed No Beard series at the Mori Gallery, Sydney. In 2014 Boyd became the first Indigenous artist to be awarded the Bulgari Art Prize. Boyd has exhibited internationally in exhibitions such as the 2014 Moscow International Biennale for Young Arts and the 2015 Venice Biennale. He has undertaken large sculptural work commissions for the Queensland Government Public Art Fund in 2010 and the Australian War Memorial in 2015. His works are held in public and private collections across the world, and he is considered one of Australia’s leading artists.

1. The Australian War Memorial, ‘Untitled from the Anzac Centenary Print Portfolio’. Accessed online via: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2123456
2. As above.

Daniel Boyd (born 1982, artist),
Kudjala/Gangalu/Kuku-Yalanji/Waka Waka/Gubbi Gubbi/Wangerriburra/Bandjalung peoples,

John Loan (born 1950, printer),


ochre and ink on paper,
Official Gifts Collection,
Parliament House Art Collection.

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