Black Fella’s Dreaming Aboriginal Art Gallery Museum

Syron+Gulpilil
This article was written by artist Gordon Syron in 2007, and was originally published online at http://artnews.com.au/details.php?e=1219

Black Fella’s Dreaming includes both an Aboriginal Art Gallery which has both contemporary and traditional Aboriginal art for sale as well as an Aboriginal Art Museum comprising

  • countless artworks,
  • sculptures,
  • installations,
  • a Hall of Fame and kitsch history,
  • White Art-on-Black Art and oral histories,
  • artifacts,
  • books,
  • articles,
  • ceramics, art & crafts,
  • photographs,
  • plus collections of historic t-shirts and tea towels.

Black Fella’s Dreaming Gallery and Museum is free-standing and not connected to any institution and is not down the wing or in the basement of a building. It was first housed in Darlinghurst Gallery and moved to an old granary shed in Bangalow, that had continuous floods and brown snakes, rats, mice and spiders. This collection represents 30 to 40 years of art and memorabilia.

Unfortunately due to a lack of funding, the Black Fella’s Dreaming Museum and Gallery has closed and is now in storage. The museum has been moved back to Sydney to increase its profile.   It is currently being catalogued and valued by  Bonhams & Goodmans.  We have agreed to sell one half of our museum at an auction on May 9th, 2006. A catalogue will be available from the third week of April from Bonhams & Goodmans of Double Bay.

I still hope one person could buy the collection, a philanthropist or organisation who will continue the museum as a non-profit social enterprise employing Aboriginal people. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if a person came along and bought the whole museum and turned it over to the Taree Aboriginal Community, whose history is so traumatic.  In 1999, Peter Smith, Aboriginal Liaison Officer of the Taree Hospital told me the cross was burned on his lawn and he had 5 children.

Another idea would be to put the museum at Redfern. I believe there are people, real people out there who care and who would put their money where they think it best to combat and expose the truths of Aboriginal History. One installation is The Wall of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and What causes Aboriginal Deaths in Custody? There must be a person who cares enough to create real Aboriginal jobs, jobs for Aboriginal Curators and Aboriginal Security Guards and Aboriginal Clerks and Aboriginal Storytellers and Aboriginal Artists.  Many people have told me they care but do not know what to do.

  • I ask you “Who owns Aboriginal History?”
  • Who owns the stories that our artworks tell?
  • What happens to the artworks that these investors collect?

Aboriginal people should collect our stories.  Djon Mundine recently asked these questions at an exhibition at the Lismore Regional Gallery, and if you contact them I’m sure they will tell you more of what he said.

Anyway it is time that Aboriginal people owned their own art and stories and history and memories, before they are lost forever.

All we have left are these stories, as Big Bill Nedjie of the Northern Territory, Kakakdu said many times, “I hope you can hold onto this story”.

Please contact us if you are interested or have any ideas of people or organisations who might be.  The Koorie Mail and the National Indigenous Times have published articles. An article was published in the Byron Bay Echo newspaper on this subject.

Aboriginal Art has long been exploited by the white man. One installation in our museum tells the History of Dots and did you know it started only in 1972?

The importance of Aboriginal-owned Art Galleries has not yet been appreciated and honoured. We have to break the cycle of Aboriginal people selling their paintings for $20 at the petrol station like Clifford Possum told me he used to do.

My satire has not been appreciated yet. This art gallery and museum has grown out of frustration and anger.  I refused to sell my paintings cheaply to galleries.

In 1997 the Darlinghurst Gallery first opened and began exhibiting Aboriginal Art and was also multi-cultural. They told me that collectors only want dots not even barks as much because they are not on canvas. So Aboriginal Art has evolved in the last 40 years to suit the buyer,it is a White Man’s World.

The Black Fella’s Dreaming Gallery always ensures all paintings are bought direct from the artist.

The name, Black Fella’s Dreaming came from one man’s dream, my dream. I have had so much encouragement from other Aboriginal artists.  As a matter of fact, one Aboriginal artist Darren Cooper told me that “You dream for all of us”.

The Black Fella’s Dreaming Museum & Gallery offers a wide range of Aboriginal Art ranging from traditional to contemporary, with a large body of brave Urban Aboriginal Art.

This precious and priceless contemporary collection explores themes such as the political, gay, historical and satirical. Other artists represented include Gordon Syron, Karla Dickens, Gordon Hookey (5 large canvases), Michael Nelson Jagamarra, Malcolm Jagamarra, James P. Simon, Bronwyn Bancroft, Clifford Possum, Gabrielle Possum, Daphne Wallace, Darren Cooper, Arone Ray Meeks, Shirley Amos, Nancy Taxof Balgo, Joshua Bangaar, Cedric Todd, Tim Ives, Robin Nganjmirra, Djawida Nadjongorle, Lily Sandover, George Milipirru, Lily Karadada, Carmel Nicholson, Yondee, David Rose, Judy Watson, Tracey Moffat, Michael Riley, Merv Bishop, Paddy Fordham Wainbarranga, Gary Jaggamarra, Gordon Pupangamirri, Roy Kennedy, Billy Petyarre, David Cameron, Abraham Dakgalawuy, Dennis McCarthy, Bede Tungatalum, Karen Casey, Pooraar, Jeff Samuels, Adam Hill and Emily Kngwarreye & 66 members of Emily’s family (Utopia) body paintings. There are many more that are not listed and we apologise to those not mentioned.

We also apologise that our website is not more developed and very very slow. We will have a section of art for sale.  Publications section has over 400 books. The authors of our books, are all listed together in alphabetical order. We will put the rest on as soon as possible.

When a painting has been sold as many have we have kept it as a record that it used to be in our museum. Eventually we plan to put how much it was sold for as a true documentary of the history of our museum.

Each and every piece in our museum will be listed with an image and a story. After the auction we intend to get a professional overhaul and will put back all the images that went missing in 2005/2006. Every image disappeared off all our website. We had no back-up and wanted to blame someone but…  Feel free to browse our exhibiting artists’ profiles and work by clicking on the artists and exhibitions buttons below.

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