Additional Publication Information
Artist and lecturer Garry Jones is undertaking a Phd at the Australian National University School of Art in Canberra. In this article he reveals some of his investigations of Aboriginal artefacts in museum collections and questions notions of authenticity, reclamation and reinvigoration of the past in contemporary Aboriginal art.
I recently made a visit to the Australian Museum in Sydney to study their archive of Aboriginal artefacts from western New South Wales, particularly boomerangs, clubs and shields. I say 'artefacts' because in this context this is how these objects were framed, not as art but as ethnographic objects. While I wanted to understand this archive better in terms of my own cultural heritage, my hope was to locate an object that might inspire my own seemingly flagging art practice. Moving slowly and thoughtfully from shelf to shelf, mindful of the museum attendant patiently supervising my visit, I was on the lookout for something that grabbed my immediate attention in terms of shape, materiality, and what might appear to be signs of cultural significance. From some preliminary research I had a vague sense of the range of objects that were considered unique to western New South Wales, so I quickly passed over objects that didn't fit this impression.