(Australia 1945 – )
76.0 x 50.7 cm image / sheet
The political struggle that led to the affirmation of native title enshrined in the Mabo and Wik decisions is the subject of this momentous photograph. Appropriately, it was taken by Mervyn Bishop, Australia's first Aboriginal press photographer and a noted recorder of customary and contemporary life in Aboriginal communities. Bishop caught the human as well as the historical significance of the transferral of soil from the hand of a white prime minister, the reformist Gough Whitlam, to that of a Gurindji elder, Vincent Lingiari. Both men seem awed, even humbled, by the power of their own gesture, enacted against a brilliant blue Australian sky. Land at the Vestey-operated Wave Hill Station was handed back to its traditional owners, the Gurindji people, in August 1975, after decades of servitude and a nine-year walkout. The centrality of the concept of land, or more properly of place, in Aboriginal culture and consciousness is here given expression in a modern medium.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Margo Neale, Yiribana: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection, Sydney, 1994, 120, 121 (colour illus.), 136, 139. plate no. 59
Hetti Perkins, Art + soul: a journey into the world of Aboriginal art, 'Bitter + Sweet', pg. 174-239, Carlton, 2010, 201, 202-203 (colour illus.), 204, 207, 250, 268. NOTE: Another impression reproduced
Sandra Phillips (Editor), Racism, representation and photography, Stanmore, 1994, 85 (illus.).
Judith White, Look, 'The country within', pg. 8-9, South Yarra, Sep 1999, 9 (colour illus.).
Another Country, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Jul 1999–02 Apr 2000