Entertainment | Aboriginal

Biggest exhibition of Australian indigenous art ever seen in Aotearoa on way

Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia is a collection featuring more than 150 works by Australian Indigenous artists spanning from 1890 to the contemporary era.

Setting a historic precedent, this exhibition stands as the most extensive survey of First Peoples’ Australian art to grace the shores of Aotearoa. Anchored in the core themes of ancestors, community, culture, colonisation and identity, the exhibition offers a profound exploration of the interconnectedness of these themes within artistic narratives.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Māori art senior curator Nathan Pōhio underscores what he says is a profound parallel between the experiences of Māori and the first peoples of Australia. These shared experiences, stemming from the impacts of colonisation, are manifest in socio-political contexts and legal spheres.

“The resonating impact of colonisation on both Māori and Australian First Peoples is unmistakable,” he says, highlighting the commonality of historical struggles.

Pōhio says the artworks included in Ever Present address Australia’s complex histories and challenges stereotypes about First Peoples and exemplify how art is used as a “tool of resistance”.

“It’s another methodology to carry on or have continuity to various forms of protests whether they are out on the street or in the courts. A lot of that same potency gets carried on into art making.”

Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia will run from July 29 to October 29 at the Auckland Art Gallery in Wellesley Street East, central Auckland.