“Myall Creek and beyond” exhibition will commemorate 180th anniversary of massacre

MEMORY: Myall Creek. Photo: Supplied.

MEMORY: Myall Creek. Photo: Supplied.

The New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) is developing a major new exhibition that will open on Friday June 8 in Armidale as part of a four-day long program to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the Myall Creek Massacre in 1838.

The NERAM exhibition “Myall Creek and beyond” will feature new artworks by leading Aboriginal Australian contemporary artists Robert Andrew, Fiona Foley, Laurie Nielsen, and Judy Watson, and is being curated by leading Indigenous curator Bianca Beetson. These artworks were developed through an artist-in-residence program at the memorial site and within local communities in 2017 and 2018.

“The annual memorial event organised by the National Committee of the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial over the June Long Weekend has become a major event,” NERAM’s director Robert Heather said.

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“Hundreds of people make the pilgrimage to the site each year from around Australia to pay their respects to the people massacred and to make an act of reconciliation.

“We invite people to come to take part in these activities across the region and to consider and acknowledge the terrible toll of Australia’s Frontier Wars.”

NERAM has been working with the local community across the New England region to develop awareness of the memorial event and its national significance as a site of remembrance and reconciliation.

“We welcome the art museum’s exhibition in promoting our event” said the Rev Ivan Roberts, co-chair of the National Committee of the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial.  “Our committee is encouraged by local initiatives committed to truth telling in history, and we believe our nation’s pathway into the future passes through our past.

“NERAM’s initiative reminds us of the contribution artistic expression can make in addressing issues of national significance.“

The exhibition will also include a new video work by David Leha (Radical Son) and Quarralia Knox developed through community workshops with young people across New England in April 2018.

The exhibition Myall Creek and Beyond will be on display at the New England Regional Art Museum from Friday June 8 until Sunday October 14  2018. An illustrated catalogue features essays by guest curator Bianca Beetson and other writers. 

SIGN: Myall Creek Massacre Memorial. Pohto: Supplied.

SIGN: Myall Creek Massacre Memorial. Pohto: Supplied.

Myall Creek Memorial 180th anniversary program:

The four-day program of activities (7-10 June 2018) planned for the 180th anniversary will include:

a historical exhibition at the Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place about the history of the Myall Creek Memorial;

a one-day symposium at the Oorala Aboriginal Centre at the University of New England exploring the historical, legal and cultural significance of the massacre;

the opening of the contemporary art exhibition Myall Creek and beyond and an exhibition by Inverell based artist Colin Isaacs at NERAM in Armidale;

the 180th anniversary memorial event at the Myall Creek Memorial near the site of the massacre (near Bingara).

The Myall Creek and beyond symposium at the Oorala Aboriginal Centre at the University of New England on Friday 8 June 2018 will include a keynote lecture by leading Indigenous historian Bruce Pascoe, as well as sessions exploring the national significance of the massacre from historical, legal, and cultural perspectives.

Symposium presenters will include Lyndall Ryan from the University of Newcastle; Jane Lydon from University of Western Australia; Peter White from Sydney Living Museums; barrister and author Mark Tedeschi; legal historian Cameron Moore from University of New England; Tasmanian contemporary artist Julie Gough; Yugembeh Museum CEO Rory O’Connor, and Dr Fabri Blacklock from UNSW. Speakers will provide a range of perspectives on these events.

The Symposium will also include the official launch of the new book Remembering the Myall Creek Massacre (NewSouth Publishing 2018) featuring essays edited by Jane Lyon and Lyndall Ryan. Aunty Sue Blacklock will launch the book.

ART: Country Ground Earth Sand Time And Space, by Robert Andrew.

ART: Country Ground Earth Sand Time And Space, by Robert Andrew.

The exhibition at the New England Regional Art Museum will be officially opened by Keith Munro, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art and a member of the National Committee of the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial.

The opening will feature a performance by David Leha (Radical Son) and Quarralia Knox, as well as artworks by leading Aboriginal contemporary artists Robert Andrew, Fiona Foley, Laurie Nielsen and Judy Watson and other artists. The exhibition explores their responses to the Myall Creek site, the memorial event and the history of the massacre as well as its relevance to present day Indigenous people.

The New England Regional Art Museum will organise a bus from Armidale to the memorial event near Bingara on the morning of Sunday June 10 for artists, symposium attendees and members of the local community.

The Oorala Aboriginal Centre will also organise a free bus for students and staff from the University of New England to attend.

Other regional communities, cultural groups and organisations are encouraged to organise transport for community members, schools, students, elders and others who want to participate in this historic event.