Blak Douglas & Chico Monks

Land Escape

21 June - 8 July 2017

Exhibition launch with the artists to be opened by

Jason Wing


Saturday 24 June 2017

2.30 – 4.30 pm

Blak Douglas

Artist in Conversation


Sharni Jones

Manager of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Collection
Australian Museum

Saturday 8 July 2017

2.30 – 4.00pm

Art Atrium 181 Old South Head Road Bondi Junction


Blak Douglas 

NATIONAL AN’ THEM (suite) 2017

This latest series of canvases attribute to a festering irritation I experience when forced to accommodate a continued societal allegiance to ‘being Australian’ and generally endorsing ‘Australiana’ and its ensuing cultural amnesia through devout patriotism.

Arguably one of the first Tory grandees to visit the great Southern Land, Sir Joseph Banks, likened the Southern landscape (when viewed from the Endeavour) as resembling the ‘back of an emaciated cow’. Was this what prompted the the Colonials to employ an ensuing 229yr mentality of… ‘dig it up ‘cos it bears now resemblance to the Cotswolds’. (?)

We’d all have to wait some 150yrs after the Colonies became fully fledged to be aesthetically convinced that we actually live in a beautiful place and one that was unique on a global scale. We’d have to wait until the Heidelberg School had had their homogenised way with the bush. Many of whom would “tastefully” omit any sign of Aboriginal presence. Moving forth a hundred years and it became fashionable for the Old Money cashed up Bush Cockies to acquire the larrikin efforts of an esteemed redneck like Pro Hart or the mono-cultured landscapes of Max Mannix. Then in the 90’s we’d immerse ourselves in the wondrously panoramic innovative preachings of the the (then) most coveted landscape photographer Ken Duncan. How rare then were artists like Gleeson, Drysdale, Tucson, Preston and of course the swathe of originators within the Indigenous arena. Unearthed talent whom had to wait until 1967 before permitted in to town to enter the abyss of carpet bagging exploitation.

This series of landscapes acts as a dedicated reminder to the above mentioned celebrated artists and every Indigenous artist who’s portrayed ‘Country’. Artists that read way beneath the surface. Beyond mining orifices. Beyond the saline bleached ‘wetlands’. Beyond the cracks of fracking and the polluted water ways spewing from the mouth of the Murry / Darling.

Feel the cracked textures that I’ve created in Acrylic paint. Touch it and reminisce the ‘wide brown land for me’ that Dorothea McKellar claimed on behalf of the Colony. What of the ‘wealth for toil’ that old mate Peter Dodds McCormick coined and the ‘girt by sea’ phenomenon. If you look closely, I’ve painstakingly mashed lines from both ‘epic’ writings to add to a disturbed surface within the outline of the top half of the continent in the piece- Wealth for Soil. Further, in the piece- Electoral Dysfunction, we see a quirky comment re the phallic fallacy of the hypothesised notion of land ‘ownership’ through title deeds and mortgaging. I’ve attempted to visually interpret that emaciated cow’s back by creating these continental landscapes as well as termite mound shaped ‘Queensland’ protrusions.

Out on the patio we’d sit,

And the humidity we’d breathe,

We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields

Laugh and think that this is Australia.

(GANGgajang, 1985)

Adam Douglas Hill was born in Blacktown (1970), Western Sydney to an Aboriginal Father / Australian Mother. Originally trained in illustration & photography, observing a family of artisans, became self – practiced in painting with a style influenced by the study of Graphic Design & devoutly politicised per social justice. Works collected by AAMU (Utrecht), NGA, NMM, Town Hall Collection, Taipei Museum & Regional Councils.

A classically trained Yidaki (Didgeridoo) player. Performances include- Festival of the Dreaming, Australian Idol final, The Deadlys, Rugby World Cup opening ceremony, ‘Requiem’ Peter Sculthorpe & Inter/national tours (Musica Viva) and Paul Jarman Projects.

Chico Monks

Imagine living in a country where the constitution does not yet recognise the first peoples of the land. Yet at all important events, it is protocol to have either a welcome or acknowledgement of country to recognise Aboriginal custodianship.  As the audience listens in silence they are quietly thinking about the event, the wine and the nibbles.

So do we question this contradiction? I feel beyond confused and embarrassed about the paradox found in a country whose history is maintained with untruths.  Our Black history is not publicly recognised nor acknowledged.

Imagine no longer.

Through this series of art works I remind the viewer to remember the frontier wars.  Wars that were not publicly recognised and were not given status, statues, markers or public days of mourning.

I have produced a series of weapons (Bundies) using traditional techniques and materials thereby practicing culture.  The weapons are decorated with contemporary comic symbolic words and font that makes the meaning and use of the weapons clear to all.

I have painted a compilation of abstract landscapes adorned with comic text representing the battles that occurred between Aboriginal people and the colonisers.  These paintings are an attempt to uproot the lie of terra nullius.  The comic text draws the viewer into the excitement of war.  The painting then progresses to the sorry landscapes.  “Sorry” has become an identified Aboriginal word, we even have a public day of mourning holding its name.

Chico Monks was born into a world of creativity, both parents teaching and practicing artists. From the moment his life began, he was encouraged to communicate through art, creative expression an intrinsic part of everyday life. With all of his immediate family being artists, there was no other way to explore the reason for being.

As a boy, Chico Monks was exposed to the diversity of the globe early, living in Europe & the UK for 2 years. That was in stark contrast to his Australian home, a backdrop of rainforests and natural habitats. Those extreme environments made for a great platform to base Chico Monks’ art, his talents being recognised early with his acceptance into ‘Art Express’.

Chico Monks graduated from Southern Cross University in 2001 with a BA in sculpture. He taught Aboriginal art in various schools, organizations and communities, including Grafton, Lismore and Eora TAFE, Yulang Aboriginal educational unit, Long Bay Gaol, Juvenile Justice, Community workshops & High schools.