Biennale of Sydney

Senior Craftsman Rex Greeno and son Dean Greeno

Senior Craftsman Rex Greeno and son Dean Greeno, Paper Bark canoe, 2020, from the ‘UTAS collection’, paper bark, twine, adhesive, 1200cm. Installation view at Hobart. Commissioned by University of Tasmania. Photograph: Kelly Maie Lewis. Courtesy the artist. Copyright © Senior Craftsman Rex Greeno and son Dean Greeno.

Senior Craftsman Rex Greeno and son Dean Greeno

Rex Greeno

Born 1942 on Flinders Island, Bass Strait, Australia
Lives and works in Launceston, Australia
Palawa

Dean Greeno

Born 1967 on Flinders Island, Bass Strait, Australia
Lives and works in Launceston, Australia
Palawa


Rex Greeno was born and raised on Flinders Island. His grandfather, Silas Mansell, is the direct family link to his Aboriginal culture and taught him how to fish, hunt, catch and process mutton birds and how to set kangaroo snares. Once Rex finished school, he went cray fishing with his father and his brother and during this trip, he helped build a cray boat. Rex’s years of fishing, experience at sea, and learning skills with his family influenced him to undertake extensive research and experiment in building traditional bark watercraft. Today, he is recognised as a Senior Craftsman continuing important cultural knowledge in the construction and methods of early Aboriginal Tasmanian bark canoes. Rex’s canoes have been collected by National and State museums throughout Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. Rex works with his son Dean and grandson Harrison to pass on his knowledge and skills of making contemporary bark canoes to future generations.

Dean Greeno is the son of Rex Greeno. He is an artist and researcher who was born on Flinders Island following a long succession of ancestral generations in the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait. Dean relocated to Launceston with his parents (Lola Greeno and Rex Greeno) in the 1970s. Dean’s practice responds to his cultural origins, family legacy and connections with Country. Known for his practice with driftwood sculptures, Dean has also become active in research and advocacy projects focused on the effects of climate change, in particular, the management of oceans, coasts and waterways. Through his work, he advocates for solutions which draw upon Traditional Knowledge working closely with Aboriginal Elders.