“We defy: By existing; By determining our identity; By asserting our histories; our culture; our language; By telling our stories, our way; By being one of the oldest continuous living cultures in the world.”

Tina Baum, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia

The museum is proud to bring the National Gallery of Australia’s highly successful Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial to Sydney. Defying Empire features the works of 30 contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the country. This exhibition forms part of the museum’s Encounters 2020 program to mark the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s charting of the east coast.

Kevin Sumption CEO and Director of the museum said, ‘Key to our Encounters 2020 program was an aim to ensure that in all activities related to Cook’s 1770 voyage that we not only tell the story from the perspective from the ship, but also that from the shore, and hear the perspective of Australia’s First Nations peoples. In this powerful, free exhibition from the National Gallery of Australia, we can hear the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists speaking through their work. We are excited to bring this exhibition to Sydney.’

In 2017 the 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia commemorated the 50th anniversary of 1967 Referendum that enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be counted as Australians in the census for the first time. It explores their ongoing defiance and resilience since first contact, through to the historical fight for recognition and ongoing activism in the present day.

Be moved by powerful art that touches on the issues of identity, racism, displacement, Country, nuclear testing, sovereignty and the stolen generations through diverse media: painting on canvas and bark, weaving, prints, photography, metalwork and glasswork.

‘This exhibition reflects the strength, creativity, diversity and pride of contemporary Indigenous artists, highlighting the historical and ongoing activism by Indigenous people to gain equality in this country,’ said Tina Baum, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia.

Artists featured: Tony Albert, Brook Andrew, Sebastian Arrow, Daniel Boyd, Maree Clarke, Megan Cope, Brenda L. Croft, Karla Dickens, Blak Douglas, Fiona Foley, Julie Gough, Lola Greeno, Dale Harding, Sandra Hill, Jonathan Jones, Mr Ken, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Nonggirrnga Marawili, Archie Moore, Laurie Nona, Mr Peters, Reko Rennie, Brian Robinson, Yhonnie Scarce, Ken Thaiday Snr., Judy Watson, Vicki West, Jason Wing, Pedro Wonaeamirri and Raymond Zada

Kevin Sumption said, ‘We are so pleased to be able to collaborate with our colleagues at the National Gallery of Australia and bring this wonderful and powerful show to Sydney as part of our Encounters 2020 program. We are fortunate to benefit from a long and rich tradition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in this country and we are proud to be able to showcase these contemporary artists.’

The museum is also hosting a free online Ocean Talk dedicated to the exhibition with the curator and four of the artists on December 3 –

The exhibition is on at the Museum at the moment and will continue until Sunday February 7, 2021.