Reflections: 25 years on

Mabo, Gail (2017) Reflections: 25 years on. [Creative Work]

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Reflections: 25 years on, is a body of artworks by Gail Mabo reflecting on her artistic development. For Gail Mabo, 2017 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of two significant events.

On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia upheld the land rights claim led by her father, Eddie Koiki Mabo. The significance of these events is enhanced by occurring 50 years after the 1967 referendum that succeeded in removing from the constitution two references discriminating against indigenous Australians. Gail's exhibition of new works and earlier pieces are a reflection of the changes witnessed over this passage of time in a broader sense, but also of her own personal growth as an artist.

The Eddie Koiki Mabo Library Art Exhibition is held on the anniversary of the naming of the University Library on the Townsville Campus after Eddie Koiki Mabo (b. June 29, 1936 - d. January 21, 1992).

Eddie Koiki Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander man from Murray Island (traditional name, Mer) and a long-time resident of Townsville. He is well-known as a land rights activist and was the lead plaintiff in what has become known as the Mabo Cases I and II. In 1982, he and several other Mer Islanders - Sam Passi, David Passi, Celuia Mapo Salee and James Rice - started a legal action that lasted 10 years. On June 3, 1992, a decision was handed down in the High Court of Australia in favour of the plaintiffs. This overturned the concept of terra nullius (no man's land) that underpinned the Crown's claim to own all the land of Australia. Sadly, Mr Mabo passed away five months before the decision was made.

Eddie Koiki Mabo was one of the most important historical figures to have spent time at the University. Employed at JCU as a groundsman, he was also a student, guest lecturer, and colleague and friend of JCU staff and students. Several catalyzing moments that led to the Mabo cases are acknowledged to have occurred at the University. These include conversations with his friends, the historians Henry Reynolds and Noel Loos; and a 1981 conference where he delivered a speech that sparked the interest of lawyers (Butt, Eagleson & Lane, 2001; Loos & Mabo, 2013; Screen Australia Digital Learning, 2008; Sharp, 1996). In 2008, JCU Vice-Chancellor, Sandra Harding noted that the naming of the library will "forever commemorate the link between the man who changed the land laws in Australia and James Cook University."

The Art Exhibition: An exhibition of the artworks of Gail Mabo, his daughter, was held on the first anniversary of the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library. Library and Information Services staff endeavour to hold an annual Indigenous art exhibition in commemoration from May 21st for three weeks to coincide with National Sorry Day (May 26), National Reconciliation Week (May 27 to June 3), and Mabo Day (June 3). The event enables Library and Information Services staff, students and visitors the opportunity to participate in the JCU Reconciliation Action Plan in a broad public manner. As a vibrant celebration, the exhibition enlivens our public space and generates conversation not only about the art but also the building name, the man behind it, the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to recognise and value cultural diversity as an asset which enriches the life of the university community.

On May 21, 2008, JCU launched its Reconciliation Statement and, to give effect to the University's commitment to reconciliation, the University named the University Library on the Townsville Campus after Eddie Koiki Mabo. The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs unveiled the commemorative plaque that bestows his name on the library where he spent many productive hours reading, studying and researching law and land rights.

Item ID: 49457
Item Type: Creative Work (Curated/Produced Exhibition/Event - Exhibition/Event)
Media of Output: Acrylic on canvas, monotypes, etchings, lithograph
Event Details: Reflections: 25 years on
Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, Townsville, QLD, Australia
19 May - 12 June 2017
Keywords: Indigenous, Indigenous art, Torres Strait Island, Torres Strait Islanders, Aboriginal, Terra Nullius, Native Title, Eddie Koiki Mabo, Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, JCU Library, James Cook University, Mabo Art Exhibition, VR, virtual reality, 360, panorama
Copyright Information: Artwork Copyright © Gail Mabo, 2017. JCU Library & Information Services expresses thanks to Gail Mabo for making the works in this image available under license.
Sensitivity Note: This exhibition may contain the image, voice or name of an Indigenous Australian who has died.
Additional Information:

A special thanks to photographer Neil Chan from Top Snap, Townsville, Australia, for capturing the ground floor of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library building in a 360° panorama image.

Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2017 11:51
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