Barbara McGrady

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching)

By Biennale of Sydney

22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

About the artist

Barbara McGrady
Born 1950 in Mungindi, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia
Gomeroi / Murri / Yinah

Barbara McGrady is a passionate advocate for telling the true stories of contemporary Aboriginal life, documenting her 'mob's' achievements, humanity and beauty through a unique lens. As both an ’observer’ and ’protagonist’ in the ongoing conflict between Aboriginal culture, spiritual connection to country and Australian colonial sensibilities, McGrady clearly defines the implications of this disconnect in her work. As a trained sociologist, athlete and sports lover, McGrady has not only photographed in the greatest sporting arenas in Australia, but she also assiduously documents the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sportspeople engaged in the ideal of gladiatorial contest.

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li

At Campbelltown Arts CentreNgiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) is a major new work by Barbara McGrady and John Janson-Moore.

The dense, interconnected and expansive photographic archive of Barbara McGrady highlights the nature of her images as agentic forces that not only document and witness, but participate across cultural realms, centring Indigenous histories and stories, and becoming tools for activism and shifting perceptions. The texts embedded within this installation are prose and words from McGrady’s social media sites.    

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

"As a Gomeroi yinnar photographer, it has always been my responsibility to bring our stories into the public domain, to connect and engage audiences with images through a black lens ...

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

... For most of my life, I have documented the diversity of Aboriginal experiences: politics, sport, dance, song, community, family...

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

... Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) shifts my work into a new phase. It is an opportunity to delve into my archive, to curate my lifetime’s work and re-present it as a kaleidoscopic compendium of Aboriginal contemporary history within a gallery setting. It is an immersive, multichannel audio-visual black takeover of the white cube: a ‘Blackout’ ...

Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching) Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

... Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li provides an insight into what it means to be a First Nations person surviving and thriving in a colonial world."

- Barbara McGrady

Justice For TJ Hickey and Black Lives Matter (2014/2015) by Barbara McGradyBiennale of Sydney

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales, three of McGrady’s striking photographs cover the walls of the grand Entrance Court. These images could easily be on the front page of any major newspaper. They capture moments of protest and remembrance, dynamic stories of individual and collective action unfolding across public spaces.

Black Lives Matter, Martin Place Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney

Barbara McGrady’s images frequently foreground Indigenous stories and activism, while parsing the local, national and global within a single frame. 

This image documents the Black Lives Matter protest held in Sydney's Martin Place.

Justice For TJ Hickey. Mother & relatives of teenager TJ Hickey speak at a rally to protest his death while being pursued by police in Redfern 2013 (2014/2015) by Barbara McGradyBiennale of Sydney

The dramatic scaling-up of these photographs, which predominantly circulate online, serves as a gesture of memorial towards the moments they witness. 

This image documents the mother and relatives of teenager TJ Hickey, speaking at a rally to protest his death which occurred while being pursued by police in Redfern in 2004.

Sovereignty Never Ceded. Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy set up by Wiradjuri woman Jenny Munro to protest the gentrification and the erasing of Aboriginal families by the Aboriginal Housing Company & their developers Sovereignty Never Ceded. Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy set up by Wiradjuri woman Jenny Munro to protest the gentrification and the erasing of Aboriginal families by the Aboriginal Housing Company & their developers (2016) by Barbara McGradyBiennale of Sydney

The images also serve as testimonials to the urgent continued struggles and unfinished stories they are embedded within.

This final image documents the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, set up by Wiradjuri woman Jenny Munro to protest the gentrification and the erasing of Aboriginal families by the Aboriginal Housing Company & their developers.

To explore more, navigate through the Entrance Court at the Art Gallery of NSW or view NIRIN's Learning Resource focusing on the artworks of Barbara McGrady.

Credits: Story

Campbelltown Arts Centre 
Ngiyaningy Maran Yaliwaunga Ngaara-li (Our Ancestors Are Always Watching), 2020 
inkjet prints 
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts 
Courtesy the artist 

Art Gallery of New South Wales 
Black Lives Matter, Martin Place, 2015, inkjet print 
Sovereignty Never Ceded. Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy set up by Wiradjuri woman Jenny Munro to protest the gentrification and the erasing of Aboriginal families by the Aboriginal Housing Company & their developers, 2016, inkjet print 
Justice For TJ Hickey. Mother & relatives of teenager TJ Hickey speak at a rally to protest his death while being pursued by police in Redfern 2013, 2014, inkjet print 
These versions were created for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts 
Courtesy the artist

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.
Google apps