Remembering the Wave Hill Walk-Off—and what it means today

Preview

In 1966 in the Northern Territory, 200 Gurindji workers pushed forward the land rights movement in Australia. Known as the Wave Hill Walk-Off, the strike was led by Gurindji Elder Vincent Lingiari, protesting Aboriginal land dispossession and worker exploitation. Now, Still in My Mind examines this significant moment.

Titled after Lingiari’s words, “that land . . . I still got it on my mind”, and curated by artist Brenda L Croft, this exhibition of video, painting, photography and installation departs from 1966, relaying stories about what comprises home, community and Country into today’s context. Croft’s own history as a descendant of Stolen Generations is interwoven with personal stories from Kalkaringi and Daguragu community, as well as archival footage and film.

The nationally touring exhibition tells an important story of the battles of cultural dispossession, fuelled by First Nations resilience and determination. As Croft says, “This exhibition and its many layers will allow other First Nations and non-Indigenous people to understand what we went through and who we are now in the 21st century.”

Hervey Bay Regional Gallery director Ashleigh Whatling agrees, adding, “The quotes from the letter that Vincent Lingiari wrote in 1966 are relevant today.” While a resident in Hervey Bay for only six months, and identifying herself as an outsider, Whatling acknowledges that, “Badtjala native title is an ongoing fight, and I hope the exhibition will inspire people to keep that going.”

With the majority of works showing at Hervey Bay for this iteration, Croft’s video installation Retrac(k)ing country and (s)kin will exhibit in the new Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough. Whatling says, “Sometimes Maryborough and Hervey Bay can seem a little bit far away from each other, but it’s all Badtjala land . . . Connecting our sites in this way is a potent acknowledgment that Badtjala people have been looking after this entire region for thousands of years.”

Still in My Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality
Hervey Bay Regional Gallery
11 June—21 August

This article was originally published in the July/August 2022 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Louise Martin-Chew