Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an interdisciplinary artist, which means I create video works, paintings, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and performance both in gallery spaces and site-specific spaces like museums and public space. My artworks generally bring to light invisible or often ignored histories that involve my Indigenous heritage as a Wiradjuri Celtic person. I love collaboration. It gives me the greatest joy to work with communities and creatives and other disciplines.
What do you love about Sydney?
When I was living in Surry Hills and Bondi in the ’90s and 2000s it was a legendary time. But a lot of that has changed now and lots of things have become gentrified. Being artistic director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Nirin, really opened up possibilities for me, with different kinds of global people experiencing Sydney through Indigenous and non-dominant-narrative eyes.
Where do you like to eat in Sydney?
I love a home-cooked meal and both [artist and Artspace executive director] Alexie Glass-Kantor and [deputy director and director of collections of Art Gallery of NSW] Maud Page put on a wicked feast. I love visiting Maurice Terzini at Icebergs, and Surry Hills is my old haunt for some of the best coffee and brekkie around. Lucky Kwong serves up a simple but tasty lunch Monday to Friday in Eveleigh. Kylie is an inspiration in the way she thinks about food and community and I was honoured to work with her during Nirin.
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Where do you like to shop?
Various vinyl shops, such as Repressed Records, and a mix of second-hand and local designers that are often pop-ups. I love vegetable and fruit markets and going to Carriageworks markets is always a buzz. I love Sri Lankan restaurants in Parramatta too.
When you want to impress someone, where do you take them?
To the Bondi to Bronte walk to see the Aboriginal rock engravings, then a swim at Tamarama.
What’s one of the city’s most underrated places?
Parramatta River, because the history of the river and the Dharug people is powerful, and many people don’t know about it. Pemulwuy was one of the first Indigenous warriors who fought off the British invaders along the Parramatta River through guerrilla warfare for a long time before his head was severed and now resides in an undisclosed British location, either at the Royal College of Surgeons or the British Museum. Pemulwuy is a national hero that everyone should learn about.
What makes Sydney a better place?
Blacktown Native Institution Project, because it has had a profound impact on participating communities and artists. Led by the traditional custodians, the project is transforming the site in western Sydney that operated as a residential school in the early 19th century. It was the first official government program in Australia to forcibly remove Aboriginal children from their families. Today the Dharug are leading this transformation making it a place of healing with art, community and ceremony.
Is there an essential Sydney book?
Sydney’s Aboriginal Past by Val Attenbrow is an excellent insight into the diversity of Aboriginal nations and cultures in Sydney and includes a guide for how to get to places like the Aboriginal rock engravings in North Bondi.