Seeds and Sovereignty

2 March

August 18, 2024

Gallery of Modern Art

Over countless generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people developed an intricate understanding of their Country’s unique environments and ideal ecological balance. Intertwined with cultural knowledge and ceremonial practice, this insight is embedded into societal systems, wherein totemic relationships of responsibility to flora and fauna ensure ongoing land management and sustainability.

Native plants provide nourishment, healing and the raw materials to create functional and ceremonial objects, shelter and tools for hunting. Their seasonal occurrence has tremendous ecological and theological importance in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Lessons embedded into cultural stories, ceremony, art, dance and Songlines – refined over millennia of caring for Country – contain information critical to the safe use and sustainable collection of natural resources.

‘Seeds and Sovereignty’ brings together works from QAGOMA’s Indigenous Australian Art Collection that celebrate these interconnected relationships between plants, people and Country. The works chosen are thematically responsive to the scholarship of Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, Zena Cumpston, Bill Gammage and many other researchers whose work successfully challenges accepted histories and pervasive beliefs around the lifestyles of pre-colonial Indigenous people. This ground-breaking research recognises the sophisticated land management practices referenced in these artworks, while reaffirming the sacred obligations of custodianship that underpin their success.

 

Image: Carol McGregor, Wathaurung people, Australia b.1961 / Skin Country 2018 / Ochre, charcoal, wax thread and pyroincisionon Eastern grey possum skins / 266 x 282cm (irreg.) / Purchased 2020 with funds from Constantine Carides and Elene Carides in memory of their parents Kiryacos and Mary Carides through the QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Carol McGregor

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