Djon Mundine OAM is a proud Bandjalung man from the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. Mundine is a curator, writer, artist and activist and is celebrated as a foundational figure in the criticism and exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art. He has held many senior curatorial positions in both national and international institutions, some of which include the National Museum of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Campbelltown Art Centre. Between 1979 and 1995, Mundine was the Art Advisor at Milingimbi and curator at Bula-bula Arts in Ramingining, Arnhem Land for 16 years. Mundine was also the concept artist/producer of the ‘Aboriginal Memorial’, comprising 200 painted poles by 43 artists from Ramingining, each symbolising a year since the 1788 British invasion. The memorial was central to the 1988 Biennale of Sydney and remains on permanent display at the National Gallery of Australia in the main entrance hall. In 1993, Mundine received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the promotion and development of Aboriginal arts, crafts and culture. Between 2005 & 2006 Mundine was resident at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Osaka, Japan as a Research Professor in the Department of Social Research and is a PhD candidate at National College of Art and Design, UNSW. Djon Mundine OAM also won The Australia Council’s 2020 Red Ochre Award for Lifetime Achievement and is currently an independent curator of contemporary Indigenous art and cultural mentor.
This community project originated from the Jimmy and Peggy Lambert Memorial Mural on the entrance wall of Kandos Museum in 2015. Jimmy and Peggy Lambert were survivors of the Dabee Massacre, 1823. Led by artist Djon Mundine, their images were ‘finger’ painted by over 60 descendants – as a form of ‘haptic specificity’ – that is, by touching the images with their hands instead of using brushes, they touched their great-grandparents, stroked and groomed them, and left their fingerprints and DNA on them. Artist-poet Peter Swain with Djon Mundine will collaborate with local Dabee descendants to add the next generation, their children’s images, to the mural. They will sing through their fingerprints. Thank you to Kandos Museum. At 4pm Saturday 21 May, Uncle Peter Swain and Djon Mundine will do a special one-off poetry reading at the site.
All art is a conversation. Art is a social act – it is about the people of a society, not just what is fashionable at the time. Art is also about memory, remembering family.