Patron & Judges

Djon Mundine 
(formerly John Mundine)

Our Patron

DJON MUNDINE OAM 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). And in 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. 

Myles Russell-Cook

Judge

MYLES RUSSELL-COOK is the Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria. He is jointly responsible for the National Gallery of Victoria’s collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and the Art of Oceania, Pre-hispanic America and Africa. Myles passion is for First Nations contemporary art, and much of his influence and inspiration comes from his own maternal Aboriginal heritage in Western Victoria with connections into Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. Myles has lectured in Art History, Design Anthropology and Indigenous Studies at Swinburne University, and he is currently coeditor of the NGV’s annual scholarly publication, The Art Journal.

Shonae Hobson

Judge

SHONAE HOBSON is a Kaantju/Umpila woman from Coen, Cape York Peninsula. Shonae graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Anthropology and Art History from the University of Melbourne. She has worked in a variety of arts and cultural spaces, including as the assistant curator for the Awaken exhibition at the University of Melbourne, as a research intern for Northern Australian Collections online at the Melbourne Museum and as Project Officer for the Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation Women’s Centre. Shonae is a board member for Regional Arts Australia and currently resides on Dja Dja Wurrung Country where she holds the position of First Nations Curator at Bendigo Art Gallery.

Stacie Piper

Judge

STACIE PIPER is an active member of her Victorian Community, from the Wurundjeri, Djadjawurrung and Ngurai Illum-Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. A Djirri Djirri Dancer, and the current Chairperson of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee, and Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunty to many.

Stacie holds the position of Yalingwa Curator at TarraWarra Museum of Art in Healesville, Victoria, where she will conceive, curate and realise a major exhibition of First Peoples art, set to open in 2021. The position forms part of a major First Peoples visual arts initiative, backed by a partnership between the Victorian Government, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and TarraWarra Museum of Art.

Previously Stacie held the position of Project Officer and Curator for Museums Victoria, where she was accountable for engaging with the Victorian First Peoples community and developied a program of exhibitions and events including Ganbu Yalingbu, Ngulu-Bulok ‘One Day, Many Voices’, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum; Marramb-ik ‘I Am’, honouring the late Lin Onus along with four Victorian artists of comic and cosplay pop culture; 'Because Of Her We Can', aligned with NAIDOC Week 2018 and, 'Silent Witness: A Window To The Past', featuring photographs of scar trees by Uncle Jim Berg, Senior Gunditjmara Elder.

Stacie has a great love for community, a desire to support and witness the progress of First Peoples, and a drive in caring for country.

 

©2020 by KWM Contemporary First Nations Art Award.