In a compelling new exhibition, Charles Darwin University Art Gallery puts the lens on the nation’s history of colonisation and mining and its impacts as experienced by First Nations people in Australia.
The exhibition You Are Here features a major body of work by a highly-accomplished Darwin-based artist and CDU Alumna, Therese Ritchie.
It examines Australia’s frontier wars, the massacre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their land, and the subsequent impacts of development and coal mining on the environment. Ultimately, You are Here explores how, as a nation, we got to where we are now.
Created in 2020, Ritchie uses visual digital imagery which makes apparent her intense discomfort with the processes of land appropriation that resulted in the establishment of the Australian nation.
Artist Therese Richie hopes that her work will encourage more acknowledgement of the truth about the colonisation of Australia.
“My work is about white Australian culture. We don’t really get together and talk about how our forefathers and mothers actually came to be settled on Aboriginal land,” Ms Ritchie said.
“We have not really taken it on board the lengths to which our culture went to, to push Aboriginal people off their country. To work out who we really want to be, we will need to understand this part of our history and own it.”
“We may all benefit from this land, but there are a few select people who make a lot of money out of this country and its resources without any regard for the consequences; this is Australia, this is how we operate.”
CDU Art Gallery Curator and curator of the exhibition, Dr Joanna Barrkman said the exhibition illustrates how art can be a catalyst for social development.
“As a university art gallery we consider the presentation of thought-provoking exhibitions as part of our role,” Dr Barrkman said.
“This exhibition will spark reflection, debate and discussion and prompt wider conversations about truth-telling, care for country, and the future of mining in Australia.
“As a university art gallery, we are proud to have the opportunity to present this exhibition and profile the art of Therese Ritchie while also fostering broader discussions around truth-telling in the Northern Territory.
“We hope this exhibition and its associated public programs will connect the public with research regarding these important issues.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of public programs, artist talks and panel discussions featuring local artists, CDU researchers as well as other community experts which aim to provoke thought and conversation on mining and the environment.
A Teacher’s Education Resource has also been developed to accompany You Are Here to foster engagement by middle and upper secondary students.
You Are Here will be on display from 10 June until 17 July, 2021 and will be officially opened by Senator Malarndirri McCarthy on June 9 at 6pm. CDU Art Gallery is open to the public Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 4pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.
CDU Art Gallery is located in Orange Building 12 at the Casuarina campus. The CDU Art Collection holds the largest collection of Ritchie’s artworks in Australia and is home to more than 3,400 artworks predominately by NT-based artists. National Reconciliation Week 2021 was held from 27 May to 3 June.
Warning: Please be advised that the content of this exhibition may cause distress to viewers – especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.