We ground this discussion on Restitution in an Australian context, with a First Australian voice and in artistic practice. Across three days from 1–3 June 2022, Restitution: restoring what’s been lost and stolen opens up dialogue around three key themes evident across rīvus participant projects, Repatriation, Social Justice and Land Care. Guided by Trawlwoolway woman Julie Gough, Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre and Barkandji artist Badger Bates we travel great distances across Australia situating ourselves in the lived realities of diverse Aboriginal peoples and experiences. Water, as life force evidently meanders in and out of the conversation – as water “is the sediment of culture” – José Roca.  

Program Outline

Day 1: Repatriation (Healing) – Julie Gough with Dr Mariko Smith 
True repatriation must be unconditional. It is not only about the return of ancestral objects and remains, but also the responsibility and care of their future life. 23rd Biennale of Sydney participant and Trawlwoolway woman, Julie Gough, will introduce the delegation to her lifelong commitment of uncovering and re-presenting historical stories often grounded in conflict. Her ongoing project questions and re- evaluates the impact of the past on our present lives through the interrogation of archives and museum collections.

During this session, Gough will present a tour of her rīvus project, p/re-occupied, 2022, on display at Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, followed by a conversation with Dr Mariko Smith where they will discuss the partnership between Gough and the Australian Museum in the creation of the project.

Day 2: Social Justice (Lore VS Law) – Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre – watercolour workshop
Senior Iltja Ntjarra artist and 23rd Biennale of Sydney participant, Mervyn Rubuntja, states: ‘We want to raise awareness about the issues we are facing. We feel that there is a lack of consultation with traditional owners. If the authorities listened to us then they would support us with housing issues rather than investing in mining on our Country, which we strongly object to.’

During this session, Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre, will present a tour of their rīvus project, Pmarra Nurna-kanha Ntarntarai – Care for our Country, 2022, on display at The Cutaway at Barangaroo. After the tour, join Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre in a watercolour workshop.

Day 3: Land Care (Connection) – Badger Bates
Uncle Badger Bates uses his artistic practice to tell stories to unearth the truths about our rivers, especially the Darling Baarka. His practice can be read as a quiet protest, an act of resistance, that brings both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities along both through storytelling. It is the wholistic nature in which Badger Bates shares and welcomes those in that makes him such a powerful guiding force.

During this session, Bates will present a tour of his rīvus project, Save our Ngatji (Rainbow Serpents), creators of spiritual rivers connecting water, sky, and land, 2022, on display at The Cutaway at Barangaroo and will participant in a conversation.

Light refreshments will be served on each day.

Restitution: restoring what’s been lost and stolen, is presented by the Biennale of Sydney and generously supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

You can choose to join us for all three days, multiple days or just one.

Book tickets


Times & Dates

Day 1: Repatriation (Healing) – Julie Gough with Dr Mariko Smith (Yuin)
Wednesday, 1 June 2022
2.30–6 pm
Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay Arts Precinct
Following the In Conversation with Julie and Dr Mariko, please join us for deeper conversations accompanied by drinks and light refreshments

Day 2: Social Justice (Lore VS Law) – Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre – watercolour workshop
Thursday, 2 June 2022
2.30–5 pm
The Waterhouse (Level 1) at The Cutaway, Barangaroo

Day 3: Land Care (Connection) – Badger Bates
Friday, 3 June 2022
2.30–5 pm
The Waterhouse (Level 1) at The Cutaway, Barangaroo

Book tickets

Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay Arts Precinct 
The Waterhouse at The Cutaway, Barangaroo

$15 student +booking fees
$25 adult +booking fees

Light refreshments will be served on each day.

The Biennale of Sydney strives to make all events accessible. You can advise us of your access requirements when booking online, by email or calling our box office on 02 8484 8702.

Box Office Opening Hours
Monday – Friday
9 am–4 pm
02 8484 8702
Email – art@biennaleofsydney.com.au

Participant Biographies

Badger Bates 

Born 1947 in Wilcannia, Australia Lives in Broken Hill, Australia Barkandji 

Badger Bates was born on the Barka (Darling River) and was brought up by his extended family and grandmother Granny Moysey, who spoke several Aboriginal languages and knew many traditional songs and stories. He is an artist, cultural heritage consultant and environmental activist whose works of art incorporate the patterns, landforms, animals, plants and stories of Barkandji country and the Barka, portraying a strong sense of identity and close association with the land and waterways. Bates teaches young people about their culture and Country and works tirelessly to represent Barkandji people. He is the public face of the fight for waterways and support for the Barka (Darling River). 

Read more about Badger Bates’ project for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney.

Julie Gough 

Born 1965 in Melbourne, Australia
Lives in Hobart, Australia Trawlwoolway (Lutruwita/Tasmania) 

Julie Gough is an artist, writer and curator whose practice re-presents conflicting and hidden histories, many referring to her family’s experiences as Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Gough is a Trawlwoolway woman whose Briggs-Johnson family have lived in the Latrobe region of north west Tasmania since the 1840s. Tebrikunna, their Traditional Country, is in far north eastern Lutruwita (Tasmania). Working predominantly with film, installation and archives, Gough revisits the past by visiting places where particular events occurred. Her works uncover unresolved stories and conflate past and present through reconfigured narratives of memory, time, location and representation.

Read more about Julie Gough’s project for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney.

Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre 

Founded in 2004 in Mparntwe, Northern Territory, Australia

We are proud our fathers were a part of the original Hermannsburg Watercolour Movement and now, generations on we are still painting together, carrying on this same tradition. 

– Iltja Ntjarra Artists  

Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre is a not-for-profit art centre, proudly Aboriginal owned and directed. The centre has a special focus on supporting the ‘Hermannsburg School’-style watercolour artists, who continue to paint in the tradition of their grandfather and relative, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. The Art Centre started operating in 2004 to provide a place for Western Aranda artists to come together to paint, share and learn new techniques and ideas.

The artists painting at Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre today do so with an eye to the future and the past, thereby closing a loop. Over the past ten years, Iltja Ntjarra artists have consistently experimented with new materials, methods, source material, processes and scale. In recent projects, their work has been transformed into fashion and incorporated into light projections. They have developed a strong collaborative practice and asserted a powerful political voice. This has all been done with a continued commitment to create landscape paintings of their beloved country in the style of Albert Namatjira.

Iltja Ntjarra’s project for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney is co-curated by Marisa Maher working closely with the Artistic Director and Curatorium of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney.

Read more about Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre’s project for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney.

Dr Mariko Smith

Dr Mariko Smith is a Yuin woman and First Nations Assistant Curator in the Engagement, Exhibitions & Cultural Connection branch of the Australian Museum.

Mariko focuses on Indigenous community-based cultural resurgence initiatives and incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into curatorial and artistic practices.

Mariko’s academic and prwofessional qualifications include a combined Bachelor degree in Arts and Laws (University of Sydney) conferred in 2005 and 2007 respectively, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (College of Law) conferred in 2008, Master of Museum Studies (awarded with Merit: University of Sydney) conferred in 2012, and Doctor of Philosophy from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney (conferred in June 2019). Her PhD thesis focused on the cultural resurgence of Aboriginal tied-bark canoe making in south- eastern Aboriginal communities, with the topic inspired by a museum’s conference event and community outreach programming.

Mariko is also an Honorary Associate in the School of Literature, Art & Media at the University of Sydney.