At Home: Aboriginal artists of NSW

Roy Kennedy, Mission Boy Dreams

2006 (detail), etching on paper, 50 x 60cm sheet. Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of NSW.


Welcome to At Home. Launched to coincide with Corroboree Sydney, celebrating culture, country and community, our new column is dedicated to introducing and promoting Aboriginal artists from NSW.

The Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts department has documented the wellspring of Indigenous talent and inspiration in a recent publication called Home – Aboriginal art from New South Wales. Within this education resource lies a wealth of stories and excerpts providing insight into the work of NSW artists.

These are artists with works in many of our well-known regional galleries. They fall into emerging and well-established professional artist categories, and their work uses stories from their past as messengers with political, social and personal comment, reinterprets traditional materials in new ways, and demonstrates their deep connection to country. By drawing on information from the resource kit, and through talking with some of the artists, we’ll attempt to dig deeper into the ideas and motivations behind each artist’s work.

For Indigenous Australians home has an altogether different connotation. Home has broad meaning and embodies emotional and cultural significance.

The entry point for our journey into At Home is the introductory essay in the resource kit–it explains the Aboriginal idea of home as something more than modern society’s preoccupation with home as ‘bricks and mortar’ and cuts past the hyperactive and often desperate pursuit of ‘property as home’ with which many non-Indigenous Australians identify.

For Indigenous Australians home has an altogether different connotation. Home has broad meaning and embodies emotional and cultural significance. It’s about an enduring sense of place–it’s the country of their ancestors, their family and young people and it’s the foundation of personal identity. In this way, Aboriginal people wholly belong to a place–the place does not belong to them.

NSW Aboriginal artists each tell a story about home which enlightens, moves, and underscores how ‘physical sites fuse the country with identity; they are the manifestation of people’s historical and enduring connection to the country and a source of inspiration’.

So come with us on a regional tour to meet the At Home artists – we invite you to explore their Home using the Aboriginal map on our website. It will give you a feel for the place before colonisation and put you in touch with country; the landscape, the geography and the interconnection between Aboriginal people before borders and artificial divides broke up what was an enduring continuity and connection to their home.


Would you like to purchase a copy of Home?


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