Get Up, Stand Up
Drawn from the Collection, this exhibition of works by Indigenous Queensland artists demonstrates the makers’ engagement with cultural, familial, historical and political movements, their assertion of sovereignty and desire for political and social equality.
The exhibition borrows its name from the 1973 song ‘Get up, stand up’ — synonymous with social resistance movements globally — written by visionary Rastafarians Bob Marley and The Wailers. In the 1970s, many Indigenous Australian social movements adopted Marley’s reggae anthems as their own, recognising their commonalities at a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services were being established across the country. His music lent a voice to those who felt unheard and mobilised likeminded people searching for change.
From the latter half of the nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century, Indigenous peoples’ freedom of movement was severely restricted, with the deliberate intention of interrupting ancient lines of cultural knowledge and practices. However, the early colonial era introduced new artistic practices and materials, allowing artists to later celebrate their newfound freedom to practise culture — particularly ceremony and dance — and to move freely through ancestral lands.
A significant group of works reflect these ongoing familial experiences of involuntary movement off Country, away from family and onto the missions and reserves that provided both sanctuary and oppression; while defiant protest works demand to be heard.