Patron & Judges
(formerly John Mundine)
DJON MUNDINE OAM is a Bundjalung curator, writer, artist, activist, and cultural advisor who has held senior curatorial positions throughout several national and international institutions, as well as advised and mentored many artists and regional and community-based organisations.
Major exhibitions include: The Dingo Project 2022 Ngunungula Art Gallery (Bowral), TyerabarbowarryaouII: I Shall Never Become a Whiteman, 5th Havana Biennal, Cuba, 1994, co-curated with Fiona Foley and Aratjara: the Art of the First Australians, Dusseldorf, London, and Denmark,1993-94.
From 1979-95, Mundine was the Art Advisor at Milingimbi and curator at Bula’bula Arts in Ramingining, Arnhem Land. He was instrumental in groundbreakingcommissions such as The Aboriginal Memorial, 1987-88, comprising 200 painted poles by forty-three artists from Ramingining, each symbolising a year since the 1788 British invasion, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.
In 1993, Mundine received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the promotion and development of Aboriginal arts, crafts and culture. He was awarded the Australia Council's Red Ochre Award for Lifetime Achievement and elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2020 and received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Newcastle in 2021.
Bandjalung people NSW -Djon Mundine OAM has an eminent career in contemporary Australian art. A foundational figure in the criticism, development and exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art, he is widely respected as an intellectual, activist and cultural leader. In May 2020, Australia Council for the Arts presented Djon with the prestigious Red Ochre Award (Lifetime Achievement) paying tribute to his outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts and for his contribution nationally and internationally to the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, artistic leadership and arts practice. A sought-after and innovative curator, the quality and volume of his writing and public speaking is a testimony to his influence, national and international reach. A commitment to grass-roots practice and development underlies his activities as curator, project leader, teacher and mentor to artists and communities across Australia. He was art and craft adviser at Milingimbi in 1979 and curator at Bula-bula Arts in Ramingining in Arnhem Land Aboriginal communities for sixteen years. In this time of regular attendance at large scale ceremonies and every day rituals, he was made aware of ethical behaviour, protocols, rules, and responsibilities, and group collaboration. Here he originated what has been described by then National Gallery of Australia (NGA) Director James Mollison as; "one of the greatest pieces of art ever to be created in this country", the Aboriginal Memorial, comprising 200 painted poles by forty-three artists from Ramingining and surrounds, each symbolising a year since the 1788 British invasion. The Memorial was central to the 1988 Biennale of Sydney and is on permanent display at the NGA. It should be remembered that the many cornerstone projects were created and completed whilst continuing to provide the community of artists hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales, and participating ceremonially in the community. He has held senior curatorial positions in national and international institutions including the National Museum of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Campbelltown Art Centre, Queensland Art Gallery, while also working with regional and community-based organisations across Australia.
A passionate advocate for self-determination, in 1987 he was an active founding member of the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists (ANKAAA), the peak advocacy and support agency for Aboriginal artists working individually and through 48 remote art centres spread across a vast area of approximately 1 million square kilometres. The organisation was founded as a strategy to ensure that the evolution and creation of Aboriginal art be determined by culturally active Aboriginal communities, and by bureaucracies in cities, or commercial galleries. Lifting the scale of public funding to Aboriginal art was central to this aim (and was seen) as a device to support the release of positive memories for Aboriginal people generally, and an educative tool in conscious raising for the Australian non-Aboriginal population, conveying another history, another way of being. Djon has exhibited and lectured in Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tahiti, and the USA.
His recent work as an independent curator includes exhibitions such as Sixth Sense (2016), National Art School Gallery, Whisper in My Mask (co-curated with Natalie King for the Tarrawarra Biennial, 2014). His radical curatorial approach is exemplified by the evolution of the multi-award-winning performance video installation, Bungaree’s Farm (2015, toured nationally in 2015–16) from Bungaree: The First Australian (2012), an exhibition and catalogue of commissioned artworks by sixteen NSW Aboriginal artists for Mosman Art Gallery. This was further reinforced in Four Women: I Do Belong, Double, at the Lismore Art Gallery (2017) and Boomalli Ten: 30thAnniversary exhibition (2017), Fiona Foley-Retrospective Ballarat International Foto Bienial (2019) and NSA Sydney (Jan. 2020). This year’s Three Views; Karla Dickens, Adam Hill (aka Blak Douglas), and Jason Wing (Jan.2020) in the Armoured Casemates, Chowder Bay Rd., Georges Heads. Djon’s insistence that “Art is a social act” underlies his practice, cultural leadership and working methodologies, reflecting a contemporary application of sophisticated social technologies and diplomacy characteristic of Aboriginal society. Throughout his career, he has adhered steadfastly to a recurring theme: that Aboriginal people be recognised—as First People in all their diversity, and as part of the Constitution.
DANIEL BROWNING is an Aboriginal journalist, broadcaster, documentary maker, sound artist and writer. Currently, he is Editor Indigenous Radio with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) overseeing the long standing flagships Speaking Out and Awaye!, the latter of which he produced and presented from 2005 until 2021. He also presents The Art Show on ABC RN, the specialist arts and journalism network and on podcast. A visual arts graduate, Daniel is also a widely-published freelance arts writer. He is a former and inaugural guest editor of Artlink Indigenous, an occasional series of the Australian contemporary arts journal and his critical essays on Indigenous art have been published by the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and Queensland Art Gallery/ Gallery of Modern Art as well as magazines including Art Collector, The Saturday Paper, Condé Nast Traveller, Art Monthly and Artlines. His anthology of collected writing to be published by the Indigenous-owned Magabala Books is forthcoming. He is the inaugural curator of Blak Box, a specially-designed sound pavilion commissioned by Utp to amplify the voices of First Nations storytellers, language custodians and artists working in spoken word, performance and music. Daniel is a descendant of the Bundjalung people of far northern New South Wales on his father’s side and the Kullilli people of south-western Queensland through his mother.
EMMA LOBAN is a Kulkalgal, Meriam and Wuthathi woman from Far North Queensland. Over the past 15 years she has worked as a curator, writer, project manager and consultant across a broad range of arts and cultural organisations including the Cairns Art Gallery, NorthSite Contemporary Arts, Indigenous Art Centre Alliance and Gab Titui Torres Strait Cultural Centre. Emma has conducted extensive research into Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage material and ancestral human remains held in major public collections across the UK and assisted in the repatriation of her family and community’s ancestral remains back to Australia. She is an alumna of the National Gallery of Australia’s Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program, British Council ACCELERATE Programme and a London Natural History Museum Fellow. Emma is completing a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage and holds a Graduate Certificate of Museum Studies from Deakin University.
Warraba Weatherall is a Kamilaroi visual artist, a Lecturer at Griffith University and candidate for a Doctorate of Visual Arts, who is currently based in Meanjin (Brisbane). Warraba’s artistic practice has a specific interest in archival repositories and structures, and the life of cultural materials and knowledges within these environments.
Katina Davidson (Kullilli/Yuggera) is Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane where she co-curated major exhibitions ‘Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Contemporary Art’ 2022-23, and ‘Mavis Ngallametta: Show Me the Way to Go Home’ 2020. Prior to QAGOMA, she worked at State Library of Queensland’s kuril dhagun, and is a graduate of the National Gallery of Australia | Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program, where she went on to be the inaugural member of the Arts Fellowship Program in the Learning & Access team at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA). She has also participated in the 57thVenice Biennale Emerging Indigenous Curators Program in 2017, and has undertaken a slew of indepedent curatorial and writing projects along the way.