There’s a profound beauty that lives within Indigenous art—a layered and rich history that takes on a colourful path of understanding.
But within these visually captivating spaces lives a discomfort, signaling a need for continuous healing, conversations, and platforms for Indigenous artists to share their truths. Through these exhibitions, we as visitors can begin to reflect—but most importantly—listen to First Nations stories that proudly echo throughout our city.
Here’s our round-up of exhibitions that act as a breathtaking starting point—but by no means point toward an end.
Belonging: Stories from Far North Queensland (National Museum of Australia)
In this three-part exhibition, Indigenous artists forge a path of deeply personal stories that speak to Country, culture, self-identity and the weight of the word ‘belonging’ that is so often felt by First Nations people. In between the vibrant shades, rich colour palette and hypotonic patterns is a sense of resilience that what was once lost has been reclaimed—prepare to be inspired.
Until Sunday 12 February | Lawson Cres, Acton | nma.gov.au
WHO ARE YOU (National Portrait Gallery of Australia)
The 130 works that give life to this exhibition proudly put first nations voices at the fore, redefining the very nature of portraiture in more ways than one. Through film, photography, sculptures and a myriad of diverse mediums, audiences can feel the gap between old taxonomies and new art territories begin to shrink with ingenious storytelling firmly at its helm.
Until Sunday 29 January |King Edward Terrace, Parkes | portrait.gov.au
First Australians (National Museum of Australia)
In this free exhibition, First Nations stories are powerfully honoured across two gallery floors, including the works from the ‘Talking Blak’ exhibition. As you make your way through the collection, audiences will be guided by the echoes of Indigenous voices that intimately confront their history and the open wounds left at the hands of colonisation. The visual artworks will continue this journey—giving a voice to land rights, sovereignty, the Stolen Generations and deaths in custody. A strikingly and deeply intimate lens that opens itself up to audiences, this exhibition is open seven days a week.
Open daily | Lawson Cres, Acton | nma.gov.au
Aboriginal Dreamings Gallery
For 32 years, the Aboriginal Dreamings Gallery has been showcasing bold and exciting first nations art in Canberra—a legacy that shows no signs of slowing down. The extensive collections that call the gallery their temporary home features works from acclaimed artists and communities and art centres around Australia. With new works making their way into the gallery every four to six weeks, you are in no short supply of fresh stories to immerse yourself within. This inspiring documentation and preservation of First Nation voices is best viewed unhurried.
19 O’Hanlon Place Gold Creek Village, Nicholls | aboriginaldream
FLUENT: Noŋgirrŋa Marawili and Leo Loomans (Drill Hall Gallery)
Opening its doors to the public on Friday 17 February, revered artists and elder associated with Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili and Canberra-based sculptor Leo Loomans will immerse audiences within their artist’s dance. Bending, folding, and weaving with a shared sense of fluidity and explorations of linear invention, what that looks like exactly is for you to discover in person.
Friday 17 February until Sunday 16 April | Kingsley St, Acton | anu.edu.au
Feature image: Mirdidingkingathi JUWARNDA (Sally Gabori) Kaiadilt people ‘Outside Dibirdibi’ 2008, NGA Indigenous gallery. Photography: Lightbulb Studios.