Retelling politics through Indigenous art

·1-min read

When people start their Indigenous experiences tour of Parliament House, they're greeted with four portraits of some of the first Aboriginal representatives.

For Chris Kennedy, parliament's visitor engagement director, talking about the portraits of Neville Bonner, Nova Peris, Linda Burney and Ken Wyatt helps reflect on the important symbolism of their presence in Canberra.

"We tell a very, very small part of Indigenous Australia as well as the parliament, mainly through artworks," he said

Australia is marking Reconciliation Week until Friday, but the Yeribee tour is held year-round.

Mr Kennedy said the creators of the tour wanted to tell the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in Australia's political history every day.

The tour was created three years ago and Mr Kennedy expects it to constantly evolve.

Currently there's a pop-up exhibition dubbed "After Mabo" with pieces presented by Boneta-Marie Mabo, the granddaughter of the celebrated Torres Strait Islander activist Eddie Mabo.

"There will be new pieces that come (to the Yeribee tour) as that story changes over time," Mr Kennedy said.

"Indigenous representation in the parliament is increasing with time, is improving with time.

"It hasn't always been quite as apparent or quite as visible."

The Yeribee Indigenous experiences tour displays rich parts of Australia's history, such as the Yirrkala Bark Petitions - the first formal assertion of native title; the Barunga Statement - painted artworks presented to Bob Hawke which included a call for self-determination; and well as Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generation.

"Our audiences are always intrigued to find such interesting history in the building and often it's something they might not have been aware of," Mr Kennedy said.

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