Aboriginal Programs

Yapang Marruma: Making Our Way (Stories of the Stolen)

31 January – 15 March 2009

yapang marruma was initiated by the ARG soon after the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in February 2008, and its display was to mark the first anniversary of the Apology.

The main aim of the project was to examine the role of government policy in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly the race-based removal of children between 1910–70.

Five personal histories from members of the Stolen Generations and their families served as the keystone and provided a poignant and moving experience. The commissioned and selected artworks, photographs and objects together illustrated the issues faced by the ‘stolen’ children, those left to live ‘under the Act’ and the following generations, revealing a truth not commonly known in the wider community.

A key driver was education and awareness thus a number of public programs were held including a symposium and teacher’s day. A record number of school tours were conducted, supported by an education resource.

The exhibition had a profound effect on all who visited and reinforced the importance of ‘sorry’ to Aboriginal people. The following comment from the gallery’s visitors’ book is typical:

Without seeing this exhibition, I would never have had this understanding of what happened. It is so incredibly moving and unbelievable. Sorry.

Project Team: Mervyn Bishop, Donna Fernando. Cherie Johnson, Ray Kelly. Rod Smith

Project Participants: Uncle Gary and Auntie Brenda Simon, Dawn Townsend, Donna Meehan, Ellie Whaleboat, Amy Beusnel, and their families

Artists: Mervyn Bishop, Destiny Deacon, Cherie Johnson, Tracey Moffat, Leah King-Smith, Rod Smith, Judy Watson, with images from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and objects from Bathurst Regional Museum and private collections

A gallery project curated by Donna Fernando and Brett Adlington in consultation with the ARG, supported by the Australia Council for the Arts’ Community Partnerships Program

Artwork: Lest We Forget (detail) 2008-09 by Cherie Johnson

installation foreground
Cherie Johnson,
Lest We Forget,
(detail) 2008-09
terracotta ceramics,
dimensions variable,
commissioned for the
exhibition by LMCAG