National exhibition asks what it means to be Australian

Just Not Australian opens at Tweed Regional Gallery

Thursday 10 September, 2020

Just Not Australian, an exhibition of work by Australian artists at the forefront of national debate and practice, opens at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre on Friday 18 September 2020.

Just Not Australian brings together 20 artists across generations and diverse cultural backgrounds to deal broadly with the origins and implications of contemporary Australian nationhood. 

Showcasing the common sensibilities of satire, larrikinism and resistance to present a broad exploration of race, place and belonging, Just Not Australian interrogates what it means to be Australian at this point in time.

Just Not Australian engages with the moral and ethical undertones of the loaded rejoinder 'un-Australian' - a pejorative now embedded in our national vocabulary. Far from a simple comparison, a consideration of what's not Australian ultimately leads to questions of what is, and the artists in Just Not Australian consider this in detail.

Artists including Gordon Hookey, Cigdem Aydemir, Tony Albert, Vincent Namatjira and Joan Ross explore the politics of images, their construction and circulation, as well as their connection to legacies of racial and cultural misrepresentation. Karla Dickens, Fiona Foley, Hoda Afshar and Eric Bridgeman address historical and contemporary mistruths and injustices with creative invention and strength.

Raquel Ormella, Richard Lewer, Liam Benson and Ryan Presley utilise familiar nationalistic symbols or emblems such as flags, maps and currency notes to examine individual and collective relationships with the state, while artists Jon Campbell, Abdul Abdullah, Nell, Archie Moore and Tony Schwensen demonstrate the visual potency of language to reveal its use in cultural alienation, subjugation and likewise, liberation.

This exhibition begins its national tour from 2020 which marks the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's first voyage to Australia, a timely moment to interrogate Australia's colonial history and the complexities of presenting and representing national identity. Tweed Regional Gallery is the first stop on the national tour.

"I am incredibly proud to be able to bring this exhibition to the Tweed region. With the recent upsurgence of the Black Lives Matters movement in Australia and around the world, and the racially-motivated attacks that evolved out of the coronavirus pandemic, Just Not Australian is a timely exhibition, raising important questions around our nationhood," Gallery Director Susi Muddiman OAM said.

With physical distancing measures in place, visitors can view the exhibition along with other works by booking a free timed ticket through the Gallery's website

As a part of this exhibition, there will be a special screening of Soda Jerk's film TERROR NULLIUS at the Regent Cinema, Murwillumbah on Thursday 22 October at 6.15pm. For more details on this screening, or to book, visit https://trg-terror-nullius-screening.eventbrite.com.au

Just Not Australian was curated by Artspace Sydney and developed in partnership with Sydney Festival and Museums & Galleries of NSW. The exhibition was first presented at Artspace as part of the Sydney festival 2019 and is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW from 2020 to 2022.