The programming of Indigenous Australian content is a significant part of the Centenary of Canberra. It combines commissions, partnerships and community initiatives; the following is just a sample.
Arts and social change company Big hART will bring to Canberra performance pieces, associated exhibitions and workshops developed through their work with the arts centres in remote Indigenous communities. Art centres are the largest employer of Indigenous people in the country and through the Centenary the company will seek to highlight this positive engagement to policy makers.
The National Multicultural Festival has been developing an Indigenous showcase: in 2013 this will be supported by the Centenary of Canberra to offer a platform to local performers, local traditional practice.
In the February period the Centenary will also bring great Indigenous performance from other parts of Australia to the national capital. More detail in September.
In this February period Craft ACT will present Selling Yarns, a conference, workshop, market day and exhibition program that promotes and showcases textile and fibre craft and design practices of Indigenous artists from across Australia.
The Indigenous theme will be prominent in the Canberra Theatre’s Centre’s 2013 program as well, from the stage adaption of Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River, to new works by Stephen Page, Daniel Riley McKinley and a yet-to-be-announced special guest choreographer presented in a triple-bill program by Bangarra Dance Company at the Canberra Theatre Centre.
In the period around NAIDOC Week in July there will be another escalation of activity.
Bangarra Dance Theatre presents a contemporary Indigenous dance theatre program. Inspired by the company's close association with Yolngu families in North East Arnhem Land, the program will be choreographed by Artistic Director Stephen Page, a Nunukul and Munaldjali man, dancer and choreographer Daniel Riley McKinley from Wiradjuri country, and a guest choreographer. Bangarra's new program of three works will be at the Canberra Theatre Centre for 2013 Collected Works: Australia.
Daniel will also be involved in creating Hit the Floor Together, a new full-length contemporary youth dance work produced by QL2. The project will be a collaboration between McKinley and 30 Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people from Canberra and region, as well as 30 experienced Indigenous visiting dancers from the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Association (NAISDA Dance College) and the Australian Company of Performing Arts (ACPA).
Canberra Museum and Gallery will present Gathered Together, an exhibition including prints produced in collaboration with master printmakers Basil Hall and Theo Tremblay at Studio One. Studio One was an independent print operation which worked from Canberra for 18 years and developed a strong reputation for working with artists such as Rover Thomas, Treahna Hamm, Queenie Mackenzie, Ian Abdulla, Dennis Nona, Karen Casey, Arone Meeks, Gloria Petyarre and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.
The National Museum of Australia will draw on its significant collection of over 2000 bark paintings to stage a major exhibition, currently entitled Old Masters: Early Bark Painters of Australia. With works painted between the 1940s and 1970s, the exhibition will explore the artistic achievements of Aboriginal master artists who established the signature styles of their communities and regions.
Both locals and visitors to Canberra during 2013 are invited to explore the exceptional collections of Indigenous visual art and objects at the National Museum of Australia, the largest display of Indigenous works in the world at the National Gallery of Australia as well as local works through Yarramundi Reach and Kemarre Arts.
“Canberra's long history as a gathering place for Aboriginal peoples will be revisited and celebrated during the Centenary year. Australia's First Peoples will come together from across the continent to showcase the diversity of our living cultures.”
Principal Indigenous Advisor and Senior Curator
National Museum of Australia
Image: Courtesy of Big hART