Yagu Gurlbarl

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Image Credit: Julie Dowling Aunty Violet, 2017. Image courtesy Reiner Hafner.

ART ON THE MOVE touring exhibition Yagu Gurlbarl (Big Secret) presents a collection of works by renowned artist Julie Dowling. Yagu Gurlbarl (Big Secret) centres on the theme of slavery of First Nations Peoples in Australia, both in past centuries and in current Australian society.

The exhibition presents a series of highly decorated figurative artworks that will draw in and engage the viewer. Closer inspection reveals a strong political edge challenging the myth that First Nations Peoples were/are lazy and a drain on society. The beauty presented in the works becomes a metaphor for the resilience and wisdom of First Nation’s Peoples to overcome the narrow narrative that has mythologised colonisation.

From diving for pearls, back breaking farm labour and minding the children of their colonial masters in past centuries, to present day work for government benefits, Dowling forces Australians to face racist discourses. The works in Dowling’s exhibition speak of these atrocities and show how beautifully resilient her people are despite this. Between the 1800s and 1970s, Aboriginal workers in Australia were enslaved, denied wages that were stolen by corrupt officials and employers and generations of First Nations Australians were locked into a cycle of poverty that still exists today.

 “The works in Dowling’s exhibition speak of the atrocities of slavery and show how beautifully resilient our people are despite this.” - Carol Dowling

About Julie Dowling

Julie Dowling is a First Nations Badiyama Yamaji from the Midwest of Western Australia. Dowling grew up in both semi-rural and urban areas in a large extended family of impoverished Badimaya, Scottish & Irish Roman Catholics.

Working in a realist style, Dowling draws on diverse traditions including European portraiture and Christian icons, mural painting, dotting and Indigenous Australian iconography. Like an ethnographer, Dowling recording the deep-seated injustices in the Indigenous community. Her works have a strong political edge; however, she speaks as a colonised subject and subverts the traditional power relations between the observer and the observed.


ART ON THE MOVE is a not-for-profit visual arts organisation encouraging connections and fostering a sense of belonging, creativity and a greater understanding of ourselves and the world through visual art. We do this by touring quality contemporary art with appropriate learning and development opportunities that speak to and develop the unique cultural narratives of communities whatever the cultural practice. Age, ability and engagement with culture.

ART ON THE MOVE is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. 


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  • Thursday, 21 March 2019 | 12:00 AM



Carnarvon Library and Art Gallery, 18 Egan Street,  6701  View Map

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