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Barbara McGrady: Australia Has a Black History

  • Art, Photography
  • Chau Chak Wing Museum, Camperdown
A photo of the black lives matter protest
Photograph: Barbara McGrady

Time Out says

This free exhibition showcases 30 years of Indigenous history captured by the award-winning Gomeroi/Gamilaraay photojournalist

Explore the hidden marvels of Sydney University's Chauk Chak Wing Museum, where a captivating retrospective of renowned Gomeroi/Gamilaraay photographer Barbara McGrady is currently on display. This new free photographic exhibition chronicles significant social, political and historical moments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Sydney over the last 30 years. Hero images feature the Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, Ash Barty receiving a Dreamtime Award in 2017, the Koori Knockout, and the premiere of The Sapphires movie. 

Barbara McGrady, or Aunty Barb as she is known in her community, is not only one of the first Aboriginal female photographers, but one of Australia’s most important documentary photographers. Her works celebrate the diverse contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and reveal an insider’s perspective into historical events, such as the death of TJ Hickey, and the Black Lives Matter protests. 

Barbara McGrady: Australia Has a Black History puts a spotlight on these major political events of contemporary Aboriginal life, which are rarely portrayed positively by mainstream media. Other incredible works of McGrady’s included in the exhibition capture Indigenous performances, high-profile individuals, and community events including protests and social gatherings in and around Redfern. 

“The chosen works for Barbara McGrady: Australia Has a Black History fall into three categories: sport, activism, and community,” said exhibition curator Lily Thomas-McKnight, a Wiradjuri and Gomeroi woman who is also archiving McGrady’s vast collection of work.

"The photographs in each category for the show overlap and interconnect with each other, indicating the significance of community for First Nations peoples.” 

McGrady’s new photography exhibition is on show at the Chau Chak Wing Museum until June 10, 2024, and sits alongside two other free exhibitions. While at the museum, you can examine the interaction between space, the human body and performance in Photography and the Performative; or discover staged images from before the smartphone in The Staged Photograph. Both are on display until April 2024. You can find more info here.


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Melissa Woodley
Written by
Melissa Woodley


Chau Chak Wing Museum
Chau Chak Wing Museum
University Place
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 10am-5pm (until 9pm on Thur), Sat-Sun noon-4pm

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