`Aboriginal Art Is A Black Thing` is a direct response to Richard Bell’s 2002 painting titled: `Scienta E Metaphysica (Bells Theorem), which is a work otherwise known as `Aboriginal Art It’s A White Thing`. A quite contemporary painting made up of six canvas panels, this work by Bell has become a constant feature in the Aboriginal Art arena since it won the prestigious 20th `Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award` in 2003; a win that raised a few eyebrows, as did this provocateur artist, who was a relatively unknown creator at the time, but was quick to make headlines on the very night of his award not only for his work, but for showing up to receive it wearing a T-shirt stating `white girls can’t hump`, which was considered to be somewhat offensive by some people in the media and beyond, while I, in contrast, thought the T-shirt and the artist quite amusing, but felt troubled by Bell`s winning work, because the message `Aboriginal Art It’s A White Thing` was misleading.

There is much to debate about in the Aboriginal Art arena and Bell’s `Scienta E Metaphysica (Bells Theorem), or `Aboriginal Art It’s A White Thing` – with the word `thing` appearing more like `ching`- is one such subject. Apart from the Chinese word Ching that seemingly has to do with `sexual energy`, or energy, the `ching` in Bell’s painting probably has to do with money in its relation to the lyrical `slang` word denoting the sound of a cash register. In relation to this Artist in association to his prize winning painting, Bell draws attention to the `Aboriginal Art Industry` in an interview with Hetti Perkins for her book `art+soul` in which Bell describes the industry as such: “… it’s a construct. You know, made by people who work within the industry that caters for Aboriginal art. I don’t think there is an Aboriginal arts industry per se. I think that there is an industry which caters for Aboriginal art. And it’s a white construct. It’s got very little to do with actual Aboriginal art.”

So what is Bell on about? White people dominate the industry, so it has little to do with actual Aboriginal Art = Aboriginal Art is a white thing? I do not know what Bell thinks `actual Aboriginal art` is, and the fact that a majority of `white foot soldiers` work in the industry does not exclude the reality that the Aboriginal Art industry grew from individual Aboriginal artists determined to sell their work to whoever would buy it. To be sure, it was Aboriginal artists in Central Australia who generated much of their own sales to tourists and locals long before the many community art centres and galleries that exist today were established. These institutions have simply been playing catch up with Aboriginal artists, who, in spite of the fact that there now has long been a push by the powers within the Aboriginal Art arena to encourage Aboriginal artists to only sell to, or stick with, their own community art centres and choice galleries, continue to remain their own `free agents` as were the first generation of contemporary Aboriginal artists before them.

Bell might also be missing the fact that the most powerful people in the Aboriginal Art arena in this past decade and longer have been people of Indigenous heritage, namely: Wally Caruana, Hetti Perkins, Margo Neale, Brenda Croft, Djon Mundine and Franchesca Cubillo, who have been in positions of enormous influence. Whilst the less powerful, in contrast, have chiefly been Non-Indigenous managers of Aboriginal Community Art centres and Gallery owners and auctioneers, though the latter do wield some power in the Art Market, they generally, however, follow what the most powerful give the nod to. Nevertheless, the noticeable absence of Indigenous gallery owners might give Richard Bell justification for his views, but the reality is that Indigenous people in remote areas, in particular, are clearly hindered in owning galleries by Traditional Aboriginal Culture, which dictates that family members must share with relatives. That is, an Indigenous gallery owner in remote Alice Springs, as an example, would be under enormous pressure holding money and stock back from family members. To be sure, holding onto the business purse is basically an impossibility without negative repercussions imposed upon any individual Indigenous gallery owner by family members. This situation might, however, be a little different today, but it certainly was not when Bell created his work in 2002.

Richard Bell enjoys being a provocateur and his audience enjoy him being one, because he does it so well, as is the case in inspiring me to produce a visual response to his `Scienta E Metaphysica (Bells Theorem), or `Aboriginal Art It’s A White Thing` (ching), which veils the reality of the creative achievements by Aboriginal artists and the industry they developed and fuel. That `foot soldiers` might be white and are paid for their efforts does not conclude that money is the chief focus, just like money is not the chief focus for the Indigenous power brokers in the game. To say that money does not matter would, however, be naive, for everyone in the Aboriginal Art arena, or industry, needs purchasing power, even the artists, including Richard Bell.

That Aboriginal Masters like Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and even Emily Kngwarreye, for example, died without assets, which has been perceived as them living and dying poor, or more to the point, were `ripped off` artists, which, of course, they had been to some degree, but these artists seemingly poor financial circumstance had more to do with their spending, or giving to family members within the context of their Traditional Cultural obligations, than their actual earnings. Essentially, it is for these artists and all of our great Indigenous Masters from Papunya and beyond that prompted me to respond to Richard Bell’s prize winning painting through my own work `Aboriginal Art is a Black Thing`, which largely draws from Bell’s own piece in fashion to ensure clarity.



Conroy`s Media Reforms Met with Embrace, Assault and Disappointment

Information is Power 2

A study of current  AUSTRALIAN MEDIA LAWS

In this New-Age of Information we feel ourselves increasingly lucky to have access to a host of different opinions on an endless range of topics. But with the concentration of the Media in Australian Society the public is at risk of having their opinions shaped to suit the ambitions of the few, rather than the ambitions of the many.  In light of this, the Australian Government is looking to introducing new Media Law Reforms that have been met with an all out assault from News LTD and opposition from the Liberal-National Party, while wider opinion agrees that the new Media Law reforms, announced by Senator Conroy , are essentially `light weight, as expressed in the following article from The Conversation that offers  An Academic View of New Media Reforms    The idea that the new Media Reforms are `light weight` have also left some people, with less faith in the Media remaining self regulated, arguing that the Reforms do not go far enough.

In view of the importance of Press freedom in a free society, the new Media reforms probably do go far enough without impinging on ideas, which can equally be challenged in a free media society. The ABC and SBS are important safety-nets where the concentration of media exists, as is the safety net governing future media merges that need to pass a `public interest test` overseen by a government appointed administrator. This aspect of the reforms is possibly the most welcomed by those who understand the fundamental importance of Media diversity to a Democratic Society, which is why the Media has always been subject to certain regulations with it being `a beast` with the potential to rip society apart through means of persuasion, or propaganda. The Government wants the new reforms passed within a week and says that it will not negotiate on any of  it`s 1all or nothing` Media Reform package, that also includes requiring the Media to offer the public a certain amount of Australian content.

What Governments do has an impact on all society and so too the Media with its power to shape opinion. There is no appetite for censorship in the new reforms that need to be properly understood along with the current Media Laws, which are not up with the on-line developments taking over in Australia`s media landscape that the reforms attempt to address. This is not to argue that the media reforms ought to be passed, as without having access to them there remains a reluctance to come to this conclusion, but for Politicians who have access to the reforms, it is of paramount importance that the reforms are well focused on and not simply dismissed on the basis of News LTD`s objections too them. The reforms are not draconian according to the voices of reason so far, which are not on Big Media`s payroll. As for the Opposition`s opposition to the changes, predictable! The LNP are a Party that wants to win the next Federal Election against Labor and positions itself in the same corner as big players like Rupert Murdoch and Gina Reinhart.

An unchecked Media can persuade a society to willingly step into an Orwellian nightmare after being fed on a diet of propaganda. It happened to the Germans and it can happen anywhere at anytime where information can be manipulated, or withheld. News LTD makes no secret of supporting the Liberal-National Coalition and feeds the public big doses of front page assaults on the Prime Minister and her Government.  Negative opinion commentary on the Prime Minister has also become the norm across much of the Media, which has resulted in the opinion Polls showing Government disapproval to be high. No Government can withstand a high level of the media pitching against it and no just society can hold it together where people vote against their own interest. Media Corporations engage in what is best for their own business, not social joy.

“The pen is mightier than the sword”

Aboriginal Art Exhibition In Germany At The Museum Ludwig

It is with much pride to present news, which has remained almost invisible in Australia, about a remarkable step up for Aboriginal Art, which comes in the form of an exhibition  titled: `REMEMBERING FORWARD: Aboriginal Paintings Since 1960`,  held at the prestigious MUSEUM LUDWIG in Cologne, Germany.

Unlike most other Aboriginal Art exhibitions that are offered overseas, this exhibition is not a survey show, but rather a focus on individual artists with a high degree of success.


Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (Including later works from the 1990s created at `Artspeak Studio Gallery`, Warrandyte) , Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri, Turkey Tolson Tjungurrayi, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Rover Thomas, Paddy Bedford, Queenie McKenzie, Emily Kngwarreye, Dorothy Napangardi

VIEW VIDEO:  Vernissage tv

A Call To All Artists And Art Lovers

This is my first post and there is nothing more pressing to say right now than to ask all artists and art lovers to help GREENPEACE  build the new Rainbow Warrior.

I cannot seem to add the link here, so simply visit Greenpeace International where you will find the New Rainbow Warrior banner and link `GET ONBOARD‘ . Alternatively see the tweet to your right concerning the Rainbow Warrior and click the link, which should take you to the right place: to an introduction video ever so worthy of seeing and sharing with your friends.

BRAVO to all who participate, but if you cannot, though want to, BRAVO to you too. Though do remember that being a member of Greenpeace is free and that you are needed.