Indigenous knowledge and our environment


Our current exhibition ‘Water’ sparks conversations about the environmental and social challenges we face today. In the discussion ‘Traditional responses to contemporary problems’, artists Megan Cope, Nicole Foreshew and Judy Watson spoke with ABC Radio National’s Daniel Browning, about their work in the exhibition as well as the importance and urgency of engaging First Nations’ voices in climate discourse.

The Indigenous voice of Australia is over 65 000 years old and it has become increasingly evident, in recent months more than ever, that traditional knowledge systems and practical approaches to land and sea management should be considered as a priority in tackling climate and sustainability challenges here in Australia, now and for the future.

…It’s time to recognise the opportunity that we have not just through this exhibition, not just artists, but the sophisticated conversation that decision makers can have with aboriginal people. With people who understand land and understand that knowledge. People who live on the land and what they can bring to the conversation that can support us to be sustainable. Nicole Foreshew

Watch: Traditional responses to contemporary problems

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Watch Olafur Eliasson discuss ‘Riverbed’

Renowned Danish-Icelandic artist and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Olafur Eliasson traces his artistic practice over the last 25 years in a keynote address while in Brisbane for the opening of ‘Water‘. From early works like Beauty 1993, seminal installations like The weather project 2003, to his monumental work Riverbed 2014 in our current exhibition – Eliasson’s practice spans a broad range of media and inspires conversation about how art can turn thinking into doing in the world.

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Join us at GOMA until 26 April 2020

From major immersive experiences to smaller-scale treasures by Australian and international artists, the ‘Water‘ exhibition highlights this precious resource. Walk across a vast, rocky riverbed created by Olafur Eliasson; see animals from around the world gather together to drink from Cai Guo-Qiang’s brilliant blue waterhole; gaze at Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s snowman frozen in Brisbane’s summer heat; traverse a cloud of suspended gymnastic rings in a participatory artwork by William Forsythe, and reflect on the long history of our reliance on water through Megan Cope’s re-created midden.

Tickets to ‘Water’ are on sale at the exhibition ticket desk and online.

Judy Watson, Waanyi people, Australia b.1959 / wanami 2019 / Acrylic, graphite, pastel, watercolour pencil on canvas / 245 x 181cm / Courtesy: The artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane / © Judy Watson

Kids and Families: Below the Tide Line

Kids and families can explore ocean conservation issues — particularly the impact that ghost nets have on the marine environment — via a spectacular artwork display, a drawing activity and an interactive screen-based animation. Find out more

Film Program: The Noise of Waters

See films that explore our complex and contradictory relationship with water — the essence of life and an indefatigable, destructive force. Find out more

Buy the ‘Water’ publication

An accompanying publication is available from the QAGOMA Store and online.

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Angela Tiatia, Aotearoa New Zealand/Samoa/Australia b.1973 / Holding On (still) 2015 /12 minutes, 11 seconds. Single-channel high definition video; 16:9, colour, sound, 12:11 minutes / Courtesy: The artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney / © Angela Tiatia
Megan Cope, Quandamooka people, Australia b.1982 / RE FORMATION 2019 / 12 000 pieces of cast-concrete, ilmenite / Purchased 2019 with funds from the Contemporary Patrons through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Megan Cope

Feature image detail: Judy Watson wanami 2019