Tag: aboriginal art


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 […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

NATSIAA 2022 in Darwin

Tuesday, August 16th, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

For almost 40 years Telstra has had a dream run with its sponsorship of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA). Held every August at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), the competition has become the primary focus for Indigenous communities and individual artists from all parts of […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Hadley’s Art Prize 2022 & MONA

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Unlike Errol Flynn and Douglas Mawson, I’d never stayed at Hadley’s Orient Hotel in Hobart – until it hosted an art prize. Established in 1834, Hadley’s is one of the oldest hotels in Australia, and it trades lavishly on its historical connections. There are plenty of hotels that are more up-to-date and luxurious, but not […]


2021: The Year in Art

Thursday, January 6th, 2022 Blog,

Looking back on 2021 it would require more space to list the exhibitions we didn’t see rather than the ones we did. So many shows were cancelled, cut short or handicapped by the pandemic it’s not hard to remember the highlights. The first notable event of the year was the NGV Triennial, a massive survey […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Tarnanthi 2021

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

If there’s an image that stays in the mind after seeing Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, it’s a pale, ghostly Wandjina by Angelina Karadada Boona. This mysterious spirit figure, whose origins disappear in the mists of prehistory, has been reinvented as an elusive portrait. It’s here and not-quite-here; captured in the act […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Dhambit Mununggurr, Karl Wiebke, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Helen Eager

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Like all businesses in Sydney, the commercial galleries were quick to open their doors last week. Private and online sales have continued during lockdown but it must be reassuring to see flesh-and-blood customers again. First stop, for me, was Dhambit Mununggurr’s Durrk – I can fly, at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Like so many talented […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Richard Bell: You Can Go Now

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

There was a time when every contemporary artist claimed their work was “subversive”, as if a boring painting or video might bring down global capitalism. Paradoxically, this feat was to be accomplished by selling works to museums and wealthy collectors for high prices, enabling the rebellious artist to enjoy all the benefits of a system […]


Indigenous Art: Where are we going?

Friday, June 18th, 2021 Journals,

“Aboriginal artists say that it is difficult to find any Aboriginal art that is devoid of spiritual meaning. Art is their culture, their work, their worship, their history. A painting is a chronicle of their country, a map of myths, a memoir of the great spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime. And their paintings are inextricably […]