Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi - Exhibiting Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art

Julie Gough

b. 1965, Melbourne

Artist statement

My art and research practice often involves uncovering and re-presenting historical stories as part of an ongoing project  that questions and re-evaluates the impact of the past on our present lives.   My work is concerned with developing a visual language to express and engage with conflicting and subsumed histories. A key intention is to invite a viewer to a closer understanding of our continuing roles in, and proximity to unresolved National stories- narratives of memory, time, absence, location and representation.
My works utilise found and constructed objects and techniques from diverse sources including  the visual arts, the museum, the library, the shop, the garden and my heritage. Much of my influence and inspiration comes from the people, stories, places, skills of and connections to my maternal Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage.

I work with existent materials including sound recording [sounds of places], video [ditto], and by reusing ‘natural’ and found, often kitsch, objects. Sometimes I reconfigure wood, stone, kelp, bark, shell  into narratives that relate their original environment and my own and ancestors’ encounters, actions and traces in these places with these same types of materials.
Key strategies include changing mobility or expected  locations: the tempo of  walking a roadside, rendering strange a place of encounter with otherwise familiar objects and experiences. Another common methodology is to arrange multiple objects to activate a surface optically, to encourage a viewer to read it as a means of temporarily holding the objects in place to find themselves part of the work.  Art works comprising multiple objects are experiments in understanding how viewers can travel around a work and in this process move their position back and forth, flickering between past and present, and hopefully, personal and national memory.

Most of my works incorporate ideas of movement or stasis either technically or in the story that they may be partially relating to the viewer. This suggestion of waiting or of motion intends to summon an onlooker to enter into the work as a timekeeper. This is anxious position where many materials inviting curiosity, initially implying the humorous, accrue a sinister edge as a viewer reaches a point of understanding his/her caged predicament within the work.
These art works are investigations evolving from personal considerations of the place of memory, forgetting, loss, denial and the potency of the past within my own family. Increasingly evident is the use of open narrative to decipher self in the process of relating the past. Each work has been built from the outcomes of the last, and represents a claiming within a larger consideration of ways to personally invoke and involve nation, viewer and self in acknowledging our entangled histories.

Artist statement for

HUNTING GROUND incorporating Barbeque Area

23 Oct – 15 Nov 2014
HUNTING GROUND incorporating Barbeque Area morphs contemporary Tasmanian public Barbeque Areas with references to colonial Van Diemen’s Land - in particular the willful dispossession of Aboriginal people from their country, language, customs, each other. The exhibition consists of video, photographs, painting on vellum, and works in wood, fabric and stainless steel.
The tenacious colonial land grab in the first decades of the 1800s reduced Van Diemen’s Land to pastoral places with perimeters; agricultural success apparently required the eradication of the original inhabitants.   Meanwhile, today, dotted across the island are small pseudo cottage bbq areas.  These architecturally reflect in scale and sometimes location the original sod or slab huts populated by shepherds and stockmen who kept the roving savages, my ancestors, at bay and extended the expanse of the ‘settled districts’.
For the love of country Aboriginal Tasmanians fought to the death at places such as these. BBQ areas retain an uncanny independence from other built environments. They offer free fuel at the push of a button, welcoming everyone to cook anything on a stainless steel plate whose central drainage hole seems simultaneously medical and military.  These sites might appear innocuous, democratic, nurturing. For me, however, they express loss of original people from country. Rarely occupied, they appear a cruel recreational, amnesiac joke. For what reason did wholesale slaughter occur across my island ? for this – designated BBQ areas ?


Julie Gough is an artist, freelance curator and writer who lives in Hobart. Her research and art practice often involves uncovering and re-presenting conflicting and subsumed histories, many referring to her own and her family's experiences as Tasmanian Aboriginal people.Current work in installation, sound and video provides the means to explore ephemerality, absence and recurrence.

Since 1994 Gough has exhibited in more than 120 exhibitions including the Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards 2013; undisclosed, National Gallery of Australia, 2012; Clemenger Award, NGV, 2010; Biennial of Sydney, 2006; Liverpool Biennial, UK, 1999; Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1995. Gough curated TESTING GROUND (2013), Tayenebe: Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s Fibrework, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the National Museum of Australia (2009 – toured to 2012), The Haunted and the Bad, Linden – St Kilda Centre for Contemporary Arts (2008), and was on the curatorial team for INSIDE: Life in Children’s Homes, National Museum of Australia (2011 and touring). A former curator of Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Gough holds a PhD and BA Hons in Visual Arts from the University of Tasmania, a Masters degree from Goldsmiths College, University of London, BA (Visual Arts) Curtin University, BA (Prehistory/ English Literature) from the University of West Australia. Her work is represented in many Australian art collections including NGA, NGV, AGNSW, AGSA, AGWA and NMA

ACGA - Australian Commercial Galleries Association