Myuran Sukumaran’s family holds his final paintings. Source: News Corp Australia
11:00pm: Ben Quilty’s message to Joko Widodo
The Australian artist and close friend of the Bali Nine duo that are just hours away from facing execution has written an impassioned message to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Ben Quilty, who taught Myuran Sukumaran to paint and who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the death penalty, posted the message to Facebook in English and Indonesian assuring Widodo that “you can turn off Myu’s imagination but you will never kill the memory of them”.
“Joko Widodo tonight you will kill two good men, my friends. I want you to know that you may take their freedom and their lives, you may rob their fellow inmates of the support and love that both men have offered and provided for so long, you can turn off Myu’s imagination but you will never kill the memory of them.
“I have promised Myu and Andrew, their parents and their siblings, that I will fight against the death penalty for the rest of my life.
“I can also assure you that Myu and Andrew will care for the other inmates you will execute tonight. The six men and one young woman from the Philippines, Ghana, Brazil and Nigeria will have two constant, calming and compassionate voices beside them right until the last second. “Myuran will continue to translate your executioner’s words into English for Mary Jane Veloso and Andrew will calm and console. I know that before the sound of your guns the island will hear the comforting whisper of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.”
IMAGE: AUSTRALIAN DRUG SMUGGLER MYURAN SUKUMARAN, ONE OF THE SO-CALLED 'BALI NINE' GANG, PAINTS ON A CANVAS AT A PRISONERS STUDIO IN KEROBOKAN PRISON (SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES) January 13th 2015
Last week Bali Nine drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran learned that he would not receive a pardon from Indonesia’s president. Australian artist Ben Quilty considers Sukumaran his friend and protégé, and told Hamish Macdonald about his strange meeting with the death row inmate and his incredible artistic talent, writes James Bourne.
One of Peter Drew's posters in the Northern Territory. Adelaide artist Peter Drew is pasting up around 150 posters in his home city this week as part of his national odyssey seeking to influence the way Australians think about asylum seekers.
Drew, whose work has been exhibited in the Art Gallery of South Australia and internationally, has also put up hundreds of the Real Australians Say Welcome posters in Sydney, Melbourne and the Northern Territory in recent weeks and says he’s been surprised by the largely positive response.
“In the beginning, I thought this was a good way to provoke moderate voters into thinking about how we treat asylum seekers, how they intersect with us and our identity,” he tells InDaily.
“But as it’s gone on, I think probably the most important audience is asylum seekers themselves who are living in Australia and feeling increasingly isolated because of vocal groups like Reclaim Australia.
“I think ordinary Australians feel embarrassed by our national identity being hijacked by right-wing nationalists.”
Drew designed the Real Australians Say Welcome posters himself and raised more than $6000 through crowdfunding to pay for printing and the cost of travelling to different places to post them up.
In a video accompanying the project, he explains that it had its genesis when he was just 16, listening to Julie Anthony singing the Australian National Anthem at the opening of the Sydney Olympics. The words that particularly resonated were: “For those who’ve come across the seas, We’ve boundless plains to share, With courage let us all combine, To Advance Australia Fair.”
“That’s why I made this poster, to see if we really have the courage to welcome people who’ve come here from across the seas.”
Detail from Kungkarangkalpa, 2013, by Kunmanara Hogan, Tjaruwa Woods, Yarangka Thomas, Estelle Hogan, Ngalpingka Simms and Myrtle Pennington. Photograph: Courtesy: the artists/Spinifex Arts Project
British Museum doesn’t shy from its ownership of many controversial artefacts in this wonderful exploration of Indigenous Australian tragedy and triumph
Preservation or plunder? The battle over the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian show
Tuesday 21 April 2015 16.00 AESTLast modified on Tuesday 21 April 2015 18.39 AEST
What is civilisation? Westerners tend to think it has something to do with Greek statues and classical music. No wonder they failed to recognise it when they saw it in the great southern continent that James Cook claimed as a British possession in 1770. The expressions of civilisation that could be clearly seen all over Australia were so different and so unfamiliar that Aboriginal culture was denied to even exist.
No people has been quite so consistently disparaged by Europeans as Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, whose tragic story is movingly told in this thought-provoking exhibition.
Cook and his crew admired the ways of Tahiti and the art of Easter Island, but saw Australia as peopled by mere savages – a prejudice that continued until very recent times. Sigmund Freud expresses deeply negative opinions about Aboriginal culture in his book Totem and Taboo, for instance. Europeans found it hard to see any culture here at all, let alone a civilisation.
Albert Namatjira, who became famous in the 1950s as one of Australia’s leading landscape artists, painted in a completely European style. Photograph: Araluen Arts Center/CorbisAnd yet what Cook encountered in 1770 was indeed a civilisation: a settled, sophisticated way of life with a deep sense of history and place. It was in fact the world’s very oldest civilisation. Westerners pride themselves on traditions that go back a few hundred years: Indigenous Australian art was being made in 1770 in an unbroken tradition with a pedigree of somewhere in the region of 40,000 years. There is a bark shield here probably made in the 1850s, with a handprint strikingly stencilled on its reverse. Anyone who has ever seen any Ice Age art will recognise it as the exact kind of hand image made on cave walls by the first artists. That is no surprise, for the first Australians crossed the sea to settle this difficult environment during the Ice Age, and brought its art with them. The oldest rock art in Australia dates from around 40,000 years ago. What is unique is that it carried on being made and remade down the millennia, generation on generation.
It is deeply unsettling to see how a culture of such age and beauty could be utterly dismissed by white settlers. One of the saddest works of art here is a painting by Albert Namatjira, who became famous in the 1950s as one of Australia’s leading landscape artists. His painting is in a completely European style. Namatjira was granted Australian citizenship – unlike most of his people in the Northern Territory at that time – then imprisoned in 1957 for supplying alcohol to an Aboriginal. His story is cruel. So is the way he had to shape his art to European conventions.
It is savagely ironic that every bit of the continent Cook took for an un-owned wilderness was mapped by dreamings
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Visual Arts Faculty
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