Tag: aboriginal art


Aboriginal Art returns to NYC (Starring Steve Martin)

Saturday, October 14th, 2023 Blog,

When Andy Warhol said: “the best museum is Bloomingdale’s,” he was anticipating a day when art was seen as just another commodity, like a kettle or a toaster. Last month the famous showroom windows at Bloomingdale’s on 59thSt. Manhattan, displayed kettles, toasters and expresso machines covered in the distinctive patterns of Western Desert painting. It […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Fearless & Parlour Parlëur

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

There are lots of people who acquire a few trendy works and call themselves “art collectors”. To all those aspirationals, who may well go on to greater things, I would ask them to take a look at Fearless: Contemporary Indigenous Women in the Hassall Milson Collection, at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, to see what can […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Art in Conflict

Friday, August 25th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

As it awaits the unveiling of its new galleries in 2025, the Australian War Memorial (AWM) has had to defend itself against hostile forces. At a proposed cost of more than $500 million the renovation has attracted criticism from architects, academics and heritage groups, not to mention the envy of other institutions that can only […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Darwin 2023

Saturday, August 19th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Another hot August night in Darwin, another National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. It was the 40th occasion this event has been celebrated at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), and rarely has it gone off so smoothly. Things felt a little tentative last year as the industry emerged […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

proppaNOW & Tennant Creek Brio

Tuesday, July 18th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

With the greatest Aboriginal art it’s often the skill and refinement that’s impressive. One thinks of the hypnotic rhythms of Western Desert painting, the infinite patience with which John Mawurndjul applies thin lines of ochre to a piece of bark. There are the stories that hark back to a time of spirits and mythical beings, […]


Bob Edwards: A Eulogy

Friday, June 16th, 2023 Blog,

Bob Edwards once asked me if I’d like to be director of a wellknown art institution. I said “No”, and have no regrets, but if I had wanted the job, I know he would have worked behind the scenes to make it a reality. He did this – discreetly – for others whom he had […]


Museum Dreaming

Friday, April 7th, 2023 Blog,

When it comes to cultural matters, Australia is the land of wishful thinking. The entire rationale behind the Art Gallery of NSW’s Sydney Modern Project, valued at $344 million, was “build it and they will come”. After three months this is already looking like a pipe dream. The former NSW Government’s planned destruction of the […]


One Week in the Pilbara

Saturday, January 7th, 2023 Blog,

“What do you think of the Pilbara?” asked the hotel manager in Newman. “A lot of red dirt?” The immediate answer was: “Yes. A vast, seemingly endless expanse of red dirt, criss-crossed by trains carrying identically formed hillocks of iron ore. The trains stretch for kilometres at a time. You see them on the horizon, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Ever Present in Singapore

Sunday, September 4th, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Not so long ago, Aboriginal art was fighting for a place in the mainstream, trying to shake off the anthropological baggage that allowed sceptics to dismiss its claims to contemporary relevance. White fellas made ‘art’, blackfellas made artefacts. It wasn’t all that different to a once-popular distinction between men who made art, and women who […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Heart of Country

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

One wonders if audiences are finally coming to terms with bark painting. It’s simultaneously one of the oldest living art forms on the planet, and one of the newest. The roots of the medium stretch back into prehistory, not only pre-dating western forms of painting, but the invention of paper, and even the papyrus used […]