On November 26, Museums and Galleries New South Wales, peak body for the museum and gallery sector, announced the winners of the 2021 IMAGinE Awards. Blacktown Arts is pleased to announce we received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Exhibitions Project category for the ground-breaking exhibition program, Terra inFirma. Since 2020, Terra inFirma has presented exhibitions, performances and public programming in response to James Cook’s arrival in Australia. Terra inFirma is based on themes of sovereignty, memory and wider cultural histories, and how Cook’s arrival has impacted on Darug Peoples and other communities represented in Blacktown.
This year, the category had a record number of nominations making the win for Terra inFirma even more significant.
We are thrilled to receive this important industry recognition of our ongoing work with our artists and local communities, in particular the Darug cultural knowledge-holders who led the project and helped the artists to create transformational projects. Many congratulations to the many people in our community who were involved and contributed to the national conversation on the subject.”
– Blacktown Arts Curator, Paul Howard
The Terra inFirma program invited First Nations and culturally diverse artists, knowledge-holders and communities in Blacktown to respond to the commemorative year of James Cook’s arrival in Australia and its legacies. Yet 2020 had been a momentous year in other ways as well. Artists and participating visitors also responded to the coronavirus pandemic, the global Black Lives Matter movement, and the destruction of sacred sites across Australia. The outcomes acknowledged the resilience of Garungul Ngurra (Strong Country), and paid respect to the continuous connections of Darug Peoples of the Sydney region, who continue to show strength, resistance, unity and pride in their culture and Country.
At the heart of this long-term project is the knowledge that the land on which we stand was never ceded, nor will it ever be. Terra inFirma uncovered historical truths and called for deeper levels of understanding and sincerer acknowledgement of Aboriginal culture, land and Country. “You can’t reconcile until you’ve actually acknowledged what’s happened,” said Leanne Tobin.
The IMAGinE awards highlight the resilience, innovation and creativity of museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres and recognise the people who work in them. 2021 marks 14 years of the awards, inspiring museums and galleries across New South Wales to aspire to excellence in serving the community through contemporary and engaging programs.
The final instalment of the Terra inFirma program will be at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre in July 2022, featuring the work of local and national Indigenous artists, Leanne Tobin, Julie Jones, Darrin Baker, Amala Groom, Joel Bray, Taree Sansbury.
To keep up to date visit www.blacktownarts.com.au.
Image: Jennifer Leahy