djillong dumularra
Carol McGregor and Judy Watson

16 Jan – 5 Apr 2021

Above: 'djillong dumularra', installation view, Artspace, Sydney, 2021. Photo: Zan Wimberley
43–51 Cowper Wharf Roadway
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Sydney Australia

Presented by Artspace and Sydney Festival, djillong dumularra features the work of Carol McGregor (Wathaurung, Kulin Nation) and Judy Watson (Waanyi), two Brisbane-based Aboriginal Australian artists working with historical and contemporary material to illuminate the continuing strength of Indigenous culture. In Wathaurung and Waanyi respectively, djillong – meaning tongue of land – and dumularra, flowing water, together evoke the living connection to Country and cultural memory that defines their distinct approaches to artmaking.

McGregor uses ephemeral natural fibres, paint, clay, metal and paper. Her recent art practice also involves the revival of the traditional possum skin cloak as an art form and a way to strengthen individual and communal identities. Included in the exhibition is Wreath for Oodgeroo, 2020, a possum skin cloak depicting native plants found on Minjerriba (Stradbroke Island, Queensland) to honour the leadership and insight of black rights activist, poet, artist, environmentalist and educator Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker). Commissioned by Artspace as part of djillong dumularra, McGregor is also collaborating with members of the La Perouse Aboriginal Community to create a new collective possum skin cloak that will remain with the Community in perpetuity.

Watson engages with place, memory, collections and archives to reveal the impact of colonialism and discrimination against Aboriginal people, and to celebrate the strength of Aboriginal cultural practice. Her major new installation, skullduggery, draws on 1930s correspondence between Matron Kerr from Burketown Hospital in the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum (now Wellcome Collection, London) trading Australian Aboriginal ancestral remains. Watson’s fabric works – stained, dyed, layered and left with the impression of objects and bodies – bearwitness to critical social issues from the destruction of cultural sites and water as a threatened resource to the current global pandemic.

Harnessing shared knowledge across time and place and drawing on the strength of matrilineal connections in particular, McGregor and Watson both engage in processes of collaborative creation and reflection to present a series of works that resonate across the gallery and beyond.

Artspace and Sydney Festival Present djillong dumularra: Carol McGregor and Judy Watson 

The La Perouse Aboriginal Community Cloak initiated by Carol McGregor has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.