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Boiler Room Series: Richard Bell

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Friday 15 March 2013, 5.30 - 7.00pm (Doors open 5pm)
The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
FREE /// no bookings


A Prelude to Imagining Victory: The significance of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
A public forum with Richard Bell, Gary Foley and Daniel Browning (convenor)

On 26 January 1972 Redfernbased Aboriginal activists Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Tony Coorie and Bert Williams set up a protest camp under a beach umbrella on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra that they named the ‘Aboriginal Embassy’. The Aboriginal Embassy’s direct protest at Australian Government policy is a cornerstone of the Indigenous Land Rights Movement and placed issues of Indigenous Land Rights, health and housing at the forefront of Australian politics and onto the world stage.

For Richard Bell: Lessons on Etiquette and Manners, the artist has contributed a significant new installation which recreates the original Aboriginal Embassy. At MUMA Bell’s installation, A prelude to imagining victory 2012-13 will be the site for a program of talks by Aboriginal activists and radical political leaders.

Forty years on from the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy Richard Bell, Gary Foley and Daniel Browning will discuss the continuing significance of the Tent Embassy together with the achievements of the early Indigenous activists in raising awareness of the debts and obligations towards Australia’s Indigenous people.

Richard Bell was born in 1953 in Charleville, Queensland, and is a member of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman, and Gurang Gurang communities. Based in Brisbane, he was a founding member of art collectives the Campfire Group in 1990 and proppaNOW in 2003. Bell’s works protest, confront and unsettle common ideas about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians’ relationships to each other, to their country’s history and to art itself. Since 1990 he has participated in numerous significant solo and group exhibitions within Australia and overseas. Richard Bell Lessons on Etiquette and Manners is the first major presentation of the artist’s work in Melbourne. In 2013 Bell will exhibit in the Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. Bell’s work is represented in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Richard Bell is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Gary Foley is an Indigenous activist and historian. He became involved in the Black Power movement in Redfern, Sydney in 1967, agitating against Australia's racist laws and for Aboriginal land rights. He has used sport as a galvanizing tool for Aboriginal issues, participating in the 1971 protests against the Springbok rugby tour of Australia; the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand; the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982 and the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. In 1972, Foley cofounded the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra and helped form the Aboriginal Legal Service in Redfern, and the Aboriginal Medical Service in Melbourne and Sydney. Foley served as a consultant to the Royal Commission in to Black Deaths in Custody and on the executive of the National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations. Foley designed and maintains the Kooriweb site on Aboriginal history at www.kooriweb.org and is the co-editor of the forthcoming publication Sovereignty, Black Power, Land Rights and the State [Routledge, July 2013].

Daniel Browning is an Aboriginal journalist and radio broadcaster. He has worked at the ABC since 1994 and has produced and presented Awaye! on Radio National since 2005. His prolonged university career included a short stint at the Australian National University in Canberra. He later studied English and art history at the University of Queensland before completing a degree in visual arts at the Queensland University of Technology, where he majored in painting. Daniel is a descendant of the Bundjalung people whose traditional land is on the far north coast of New South Wales. His paternal family has lived at Fingal on a sand peninsula between the Tweed River and the Pacific Ocean for 120 years. Through his mother, he is a descendant of the Kullilli people of south-western Queensland and the traditional owners of the Gold Coast hinterland.

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