Tony Albert

Healing Land, Remembering Country

By Biennale of Sydney

22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

Tony Albert, 'Healing Land, Remembering Country' | 22nd Biennale of Sydney | NIRINBiennale of Sydney

About the artist

Tony Albert
Born 1981 in Townsville, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia

"We carry the responsibility for continuing to care for and look after the land upon which we live. Take a moment to connect with this site; consider that this place has an active memory. As you stand here, you are its most recent memory and part of a contemporary ceremony, an action and process marking the beginning of change." 

- Tony Albert

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

Healing Land, Remembering Country

Tony Albert's project for NIRIN extends and expands upon his Blacktown Native Institution project, which aimed to support Aboriginal custodianship, to honour the Native Institution and their families, and raise awareness of the Stolen Generations in the broader community.

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

For the project, Albert had local children gift written memories to the former children of the Institution, written on paper imbedded with native seeds. The Native Institution (a former residential school for Indigenous children, established in 1815) was the beginning of Australia's Stolen Generations.

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

The Blacktown Native Institution site (where the Institution moved in 1823) was handed back to its traditional custodians, the Darug people in 2018.

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

Healing Land, Remembering Country, is a new gesture of ‘memory exchange’. Presented as a sustainable greenhouse at Cockatoo Island, the work poses important questions such as: how do we remember, give justice to, and rewrite complex and traumatic histories? 

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

It is a continuation of Albert’s practice where the artist engages with sites of historical and inter-generational trauma. The artist invites us all to engage with the histories of place by inviting members of the public to share memories on paper imbedded with local seeds, which in turn are used to heal the land and our memories. 

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

The greenhouse is intended to act as a site for reflection, writing, sharing, and healing. Baskets made by Indigenous artists from across Australia act as the vessels to hold and care for people’s gifted memories. 

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

Surrounded by former convict prison buildings, Healing Land, Remembering Country creates a moment for pause and reflection, within a place of new growth. Connecting the multi-layered histories of this site to others, the seeded paper will be planted at different locations to re-generate flora.

Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

Step inside Tony Albert's installation Healing Land, Remembering Country at the Convict Precinct on Cockatoo Island.

Keep exploring

For NIRIN, Tony Albert invites visitors to his greenhouse to write on paper implanted with local native grass seeds, sharing thoughts and wishes for an alternative narrative for children and young people who were - and are - incarcerated. The letters will form part of the re-vegetation project at the Blacktown Native Institution. Make your own Recycled Seed Paper in this NIRIN at home activity.

Recycled Seed PaperBiennale of Sydney

To learn more, listen to the NIRIN podcast on Aboriginal Land Management with cultural and environmental educator, Clarence Slockee or download the Tony Albert Learning Resource from the Biennale's website.

Biennale of Sydney

Credits: Story

Healing Land, Remembering Country, 2020 
greenhouse nursery, hand woven baskets, native plants 
Hand woven baskets by: Bula’Bula Arts – Evonne Munuyngu; Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts – Dolly Dhimburra Bidingal, Joyce Milpuna Bidingal, Mary Dhapalany, Mavis Marrkula Djuliping, Linda Gagati, Caroline Gulmindilly, Kathy Guyula, Helen Djaypila Guyula, Meredith Marika; Numbulwar Numburindi Arts – Nicola Wilfred; Tjanpi Desert Weavers – Munatji Brumby, Maureen Cullinan, Niningka Lewis, Puna Yanima 
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts and Create NSW, and generous assistance from The Medich Foundation 
Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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