New indigenous artwork acquisition for SAM

The Shepparton Art Museum has added another significant work to its Collection, with the assistance of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, in recognition of the sporting and cultural legacies in the Goulburn Murray.

The Brothers is the fourth painting by the artist, Julie Dowling to join the SAM Collection and continues the relatable themes and stories of family, identity, Country and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This work forms a part of the larger gift of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner’s collection of predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander art to Shepparton Art Museum.

The Brothers, 2002 depicts three men dressed in the club’s football uniform either during or after a game. Two men are arm-in-arm with the football safely tucked under one of the brother’s arms, while behind them stands their team-mate. Meticulously rendered traditional symbols expand across the surface of the green footy oval and blue Australian sky, referencing representations of place, cultural symbols and Indigenous identity. 

Dowling’s portraits often feature members from her own family, occasionally herself, and the familiar faces of iconic Australian figures. Her works have specific references and universal connections; they convey many stories, concerns or insights, told through the compelling eyes of her subjects.

Australian Rules Football was embraced by Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, creating sporting legacies and legends across the country. In our region of country Victoria this was also true. Local premiership winning sides emerged from families living at Cummeragunja (1890’s–1930’s), the All Blacks of Daish’s paddock (1946), and more recently at Shepparton’s Rumbalara Football Netball Club.

Belinda Briggs, SAM Community Engagement – Indigenous, and an active member of the Rumbalara Football Netball Club notes, “Sport, and playing as part of a team, enabled players to acquire a level of independence and freedom off the missions in a time where permission had to be sought by the manager. Bonds are made in the inner sanctum of teams and can offer a place of respite, belonging and affirmation of identity. Today these clubs are an important tool as ever, to foster culture, nurture families, and promote wellbeing.”

The other Julie Dowling works in the SAM Collection are:

Inside Out, 1999 (donated by Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2017)

Woman Head, 2002 (donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Carrillo Gantner, AC, 2017)

The Brothers, 2004 (donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2013)

About the Artist

Julie Dowling was born in Subiaco and is of the Badimaya People in the Mid-West of Western Australia. Largely working in painting, she draws on diverse art traditions including European portraiture, Christian Orthodox icons, mural painting and Badimaya First Nation iconography, or signs and symbols.

Dowling works like an ethnographer, recording the deep-seated injustices in the Indigenous community. Her pictorial works have a strong political edge, however, because she speaks as a colonised subject and subverts the traditional power relations between the observer and the observed, the coloniser and the colonised. She was awarded a Diploma of Fine Art at Claremont School of Art in 1989, a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin University in 1992 and an Associate Diploma in Visual Arts Management at Perth Metropolitan TAFE in 1995.

Since her first solo exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre in 1995, Dowling has earned a substantial national and international reputation as an artist of extraordinary vision. Her work has been exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, notably at Art Fair Cologne in 1997, Beyond the Pale: Contemporary Indigenous Art, 2000 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, and the RAKA AWARD: Places that name us, The Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2003.

Image: Julie Dowling, Community / Language Group: Badimaya, The Brothers, 2002, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 121 x 91 cm, © the artist

Purchased with the assistance of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2018, in recognition of the sporting and cultural legacies in the Goulburn Murray. We acknowledge and celebrate early sporting teams, the Cummeragunja Invincibles and the All Blacks of Daish’s Paddock and more recently Rumbalara Football Netball Club. © the artist