Artists Richard Bell, Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Peoples, created You Can Go Now 2015, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
Artists Richard Bell, Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Peoples, created You Can Go Now 2015, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Art show rubs salt into our past deeds

ARTSPACE Mackay’s touring exhibition Violent Salt has opened at Noosa Regional Gallery.

Violent Salt examines issues of racism and discrimination against First Nations peoples and minority groups.

“The exhibition emphasises disregard and desecration of culture and the natural environment, with each of the artists encouraged to speak their truths,” Noosa Regional Gallery Director Michael Brennan said.

This major exhibition is co-curated by First Nations artist Yhonnie Scarce and Claire Watson to reflect on the experiences of the marginalised, the under-represented and the silenced.

“It offers audiences an opportunity for understanding and connection, while still honouring and celebrating Australia’s unique multiculturalism and landscape,” Mr Brennan said.

The exhibition includes work from contemporary artists from across the country, representing diverse cultural heritage.

The co-curators said the works presented in Violent Salt: “reflect on a social, physical and geographical landscape that has been witness to violence and oppression. It questions how we can repair deep wounds, reconnect across culture and assert and celebrate cultural identities meaningfully and transformatively.”

Mr Brennan says Violent Salt is a pertinent exhibition for Australia at this time in our history as a nation.

“The artists who have contributed works are at the forefront of a turning tide in our attitudes towards difference and diversity. Like any significant social change, however, there are still those who need to be towed along until the prevailing current sweeps them up. These artists are that current,” he said.

“Noosa, in particular, represents an interesting bubble in contemporary Australia. Progressive in its attitude towards the environment and populated by an educated, socially attuned demographic, it might also be argued that these characteristics are a result of privilege. Cultural diversity is certainly less evident in this part of the country than, for example, our major cities. Violent Salt will give our audiences an opportunity to reflect upon where they personally sit in relation to these important community dynamics.”

Violent Salt features artists Abdul Abdullah (NSW), Vernon Ah Kee (QLD), Richard Bell (QLD), Daniel Boyd (NSW), Megan Cope (QLD), Karla Dickens (NSW), S.J. Norman (VIC) Yhonnie Scarce (VIC/SA) and Jemima Wyman (QLD).

Works include Bone Library, by artist S.J. Norman, in which words from Australian Aboriginal languages classified as “extinct”, have been engraved into the bones of sheep and beef cattle; and a newly commissioned work by Vernon Ah Kee featuring riot shields evoking the conflict and violence of land rights rallies.

Violent Salt is an Artspace Mackay Touring Exhibition and includes two major new commissions created especially for the exhibition.

It will be at Noosa Regional Gallery to January 26, 2020. Entry to the gallery is free. Visit:

Violent Salt has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.