NIRIN Virtual Tour: National Art School

By Biennale of Sydney

22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

Alchemy Garden Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney


NIRIN at the National Art School reflects on extinction, death, life, change and healing. A central theme of NIRIN is that of BILA (meaning River: Environment), a focus on the complex ecologies that make up our world and the environmental crises we now face. Some projects share an urgency for ecological harmony and how humans can work together with nature to create food gardens and respond to our deeper interconnectivity to the earth, rocks, animals and other creatures with whom we share this planet. Amongst the deep sadness of extinction is also the need of human diaspora and movement that often uproots and creates heartache for many who need to flee their homes from war or other actions out of their control. The legacy of this and inter-generational trauma reflects both on our duty to nature but also to each other.

Femicide (the murder of women) is also deeply reflected here and contemporary violence are navigated in complex ways. Among these artworks and their messages, is also hope and relocation. As we all witness together, there is a place made possible for reflection and healing, creating a different path forward.

Navigate through the National Art School and explore the artists of NIRIN.

NIRIN at National Art School (2020)Biennale of Sydney

Brothers (The Prodigal Son) Brothers (The Prodigal Son) (2020) by Tony AlbertBiennale of Sydney

Tony Albert (Australia)

Brothers (The Prodigal Son) responds to a window in the nearby chapel building. It memorialises another story of heroic figures, enshrining a beautiful act of self defiance and embedding a local Indigenous story at the site. Read the story

Alchemy Garden Alchemy Garden (2019/2020) by Andrew RewaldBiennale of Sydney

Andrew Rewald (Australia)

Deeply embedded in its location, Alchemy Garden is an interactive, ever transforming, community-based garden project, created through reflecting on histories from pre-invasion Indigenous land use to the present. We are asked to reflect on what we can learn from the past to inform new sustainable practices into the future. Explore the garden

Randy Lee Cutler (Canada) and Andrew Rewald (Australia)

Mineral Garden is a collaborative installation that draws upon the individual practices of both artists, who share common interest in the natural world and ecological crises. Across three rooms that create different atmospheres, the project speculates on hidden and unexpected lives of plants, minerals, animals, and forms in-between.

Look around and explore the diverse selection of materials: collages, posters, archival objects, and plant specimens and a reading area. The installation traverses the realms of mysticism, museum taxonomy, science fiction and reality. Explore the installation

Hannah Catherine Jones, aka Foxy Moron (United Kingdom)

The immersive video installation Owed to Diaspora(s) is an atmospheric blending and traversing of cosmic scenes to actions of freedom, colonial histories to possible futuristic visions and popular culture.

Empowering women and diaspora, this re-writing of visual legacies and the world seen through different eyes, brings together scenes of collective action, from protest to music making. Read more

Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Arts Centre (Australia)

In the stairwell, ‘dollar shop’ bags trace stories of Country and struggles with housing and displacement. By the windows sit Waiting list long time (Vanessa Inkamala) and My Dream is for my Country (Noreen Hudson).

These are material symbols of life on the move. On one side is a beautiful landscape painting. On the other, a powerful message of self-determination to the many who have no connection or understanding of their urgency.

Across the way sits FAMILY MOVE TO TOWN, LACK OF HOUSING HOMELESS (Ivy Pareroultja).

View all of the 'dollar shop' bags

Teresa Margolles (Mexico)

Margolles' installation Aproximación al lugar de los hechos (Approximations to the Scenes of the Facts) is an accumulation of violent acts, plotted through a complex memorial to lives lost and to sites where trauma continues to resonate and bear material traces of the violence perpetrated.

In her work Margolles acknowledges "We are all witnesses here, we are not in the place of the victim." Walk around the installation or read the full story.

Adrift Lab (DETACHED) - Lucienne Rickard (Australia)

Seen here is the artwork Extinction Studies by Lucienne Rickard, as part of Adrift Lab. Read more about her work and practice, or research and draw your own extinct animal in the NIRIN at Home activity.

Keep exploring the National Art School or take another NIRIN Virtual Tour.

To learn more about the harsh history of life in Darlinghurst Gaol and its transformation into a working art school, listen to the podcast with National Art School Archivist, Deborah Beck.

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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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Related theme
NIRIN: Art From the Edge
The Biennale of Sydney (2020) presents contemporary art from around the globe in a First Nations-led exhibition
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