Parliament House is currently

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this gallery may contain the names and images of deceased persons.

 

Since the formation of the Parliament House Art Collection in the 1980s, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art has been a collecting priority.

 

Of the 3,500 contemporary works in the rotational collection, more than 600 are by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Artists from every state and territory and from urban as well as regional and remote areas of Australia are represented across a number of media including painting, sculpture, photography, glass, ceramics, bark paintings, prints, drawings, weaving and textiles.

Barunga statement, 1988

Galarrwuy Yunupingu (born 1948, Gumatj people), Bakulangay Marawili (1944–2002, Madarrpa people), Djambawa Marawili (born 1953, Madarrpa people), Marrirra Marawili (born c.1937, Madarrpa people), Djewiny Ngurruwuthun (born c.1940, Munyuku people), Wenten Rubuntja (c.1926–2005, Arrernte/Aranda peoples), Lindsay Jampijinpa (1951–2009, Warlpiri people), D. Williams Japanangka (1948–2013, Warlpiri people)
Barunga statement, 1988
Ochres on composition board with collage of printed text on paper
Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

 

Right: Galarrwuy Yunupingu (NLC chairman) and Wenten Rubuntja (CLC chairman) present the Barunga Statement to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, 1988. Photograph courtesy of Central Land Council

  

When Prime Minister Bob Hawke attended the annual Barunga Festival, a community cultural and sporting festival held near Katherine in the Northern Territory, Galarrwuy Yunupingu (Northern Land Council chairman) and Wenten Rubuntja (Central Land Council chairman) presented him with two bark paintings and a statement calling for Government recognition of the Indigenous owners’ rights including self-determination, land rights and respect for and promotion of Aboriginal identity, and to ‘negotiate with us a Treaty recognising our prior ownership, continued occupation and sovereignty and affirming our human rights and freedom.’

 

The Prime Minister responded by affirming the Government’s commitment to negotiating a treaty with Aboriginal people and hoped that negotiations could commence before the end of 1988, and an agreement on a treaty reached by the end of his Government’s term. A treaty was never reached, but importantly, the statement put Indigenous issues to the top of the agenda during the bicentenary year of European Settlement.

 

Further information and resources

 

Barunga statement (detail), 1988

Galarrwuy Yunupingu (born 1948, Gumatj people), Bakulangay Marawili (1944–2002, Madarrpa people), Djambawa Marawili (born 1953, Madarrpa people), Marrirra Marawili (born c.1937, Madarrpa people), Djewiny Ngurruwuthun (born c.1940, Munyuku people), Wenten Rubuntja (c.1926–2005, Arrernte/Aranda peoples), Lindsay Jampijinpa (1951–2009, Warlpiri people), D. Williams Japanangka (1948–2013, Warlpiri people)
Barunga statement (detail), 1988
Ochres on composition board with collage of printed text on paper
Gifts Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

Boneta-Marie Mabo (born 1984), The Eddie Mabo Stamps, 2014

Boneta-Marie Mabo (born 1984) Manbarra/Paidram peoples
The Eddie Mabo Stamps2014
Digital print
Parliament House Art Collection

 

In 2013 Boneta’s grandfather, the noted land rights campaigner Edward Koiki Mabo, was featured on a stamp along with Shirley Smith, Neville Bonner, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Charles Perkins. This was in honour of his significant contribution and tireless campaigning for the rights of indigenous people.

 

To honour her grandfather for the personal impact he had on her life Boneta created her own stamps, a modern interpretation of her cultural background; drawing inspiration from Reko Rennie and the late Jean-Michel Basquiat.

 

Learn more about Edward Koiki Mabo

Mavis Ngallametta (1944-2019), Bushfire at Ngak-Pungarichan, 2013

Mavis Ngallametta (1944–2019) Kugu Uwanh peoples
Bushfire at Ngak-Pungarichan, 2013
Ochres and acrylic binder on canvas
Parliament House Art Collection

 

Inspired by the spectacular landscape of her country, Mrs Ngallametta’s paintings depict the landscape near Aurukun in far north Queensland. This work is a uniquely Australian landscape rendered in natural ochres—a raging bushfire, smoke pluming into the sky, bauxite cliffs and a vivid blue ocean below teeming with seabirds.

Mrs Ngallametta was a traditional elder of the country surrounding the Kendall River region near Aurukun. She first became recognised for her traditional weaving and basketry. It was not until 2008 that she began developing her unique painting style and translated her weaving practice into a contemporary visual language.

Richard Bell (born 1953) Kamilaroi people, Parliament House, 2007

Richard Bell (born 1953) Kamilaroi people
Parliament House, 2007
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Parliament House Art Collection

 

Richard Bell is a member of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang communities. An artist and activist, Bell works in several different media including video, painting, installation and text and his work often challenges conventional thinking about Indigenous art.  His works often reference contemporary issues surrounding identity, politics, race and place.

Danie Mellor (born 1971) Mamu/Ngagen/Ngajan peoples, My Bloody Oath, 2009.

Danie Mellor (born 1971) Mamu/Ngagen/Ngajan peoples
My Bloody Oath, 2009
Gold china mosaic and taxidermy on engraved column
Parliament House Art Collection

 

The kangaroo graces the Australian coat of arms, opposite that other uniquely Australian creature, the emu. In this work, Mellor, with his mixed Indigenous heritage, considers the use of the kangaroo in a broader and more complex historical context. In this work the kangaroo‘s position suggests the taking of a pledge of allegiance, the title also referencing the Australian colloquial expression 'my bloody oath' which is used as an affirmation of the truth.

Brian Robinson (born 1973) Wuthathi/Maluyligal peoples, ... And they flew from the airfield at Ngurupai, 2007.

Brian Robinson (born 1973) Wuthathi/Maluyligal peoples
... And they flew from the airfield at Ngurupai, 2007
Linocut printed in black ink from one block on Arches BFK 300 gsm paper
Centenary of Anzac Acquisition, Parliament House Art Collection

 

Brian Robinson is a contemporary artist based in Cairns. His practice includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and design. In this linocut print, Robinson refers to the events of the Second World War and their assimilation into the costumes and ceremonies of Torres Strait Islander people. Traditionally, a Torres Strait Islander headdress would depict a totem animal, but during the Second World War a number were constructed to represent the military aircraft that flew from the RAAF base established on Ngurupai (Horn Island) in 1941. In response to the military and civilian aircraft that were regularly seen in the skies, many dancers began to incorporate these machines into their costume and traditional performances.

Brian Robinson (born 1973) Wuthathi/Maluyligal peoples, ... And they flew from the airfield at Ngurupai, 2007.

Brian Robinson (born 1973) Wuthathi/Maluyligal peoples
And they flew from the airfield at Ngurupai II, 2011
linocut printed in black ink from one block on BFK Rives white 300 GSM
Centenary of Anzac Acquisition, Parliament House Art Collection

Barunga statement, 1988
Barunga statement (detail), 1988
Boneta-Marie Mabo (born 1984), The Eddie Mabo Stamps, 2014
Mavis Ngallametta (1944-2019), Bushfire at Ngak-Pungarichan, 2013
Richard Bell (born 1953) Kamilaroi people, Parliament House, 2007
Danie Mellor (born 1971) Mamu/Ngagen/Ngajan peoples, My Bloody Oath, 2009.
Brian Robinson (born 1973) Wuthathi/Maluyligal peoples, ... And they flew from the airfield at Ngurupai, 2007.
Brian Robinson (born 1973) Wuthathi/Maluyligal peoples, ... And they flew from the airfield at Ngurupai, 2007.
Top