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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Bogong Cluster

Socially connected, physically distant

Daily
10:00am – 5:00pm
Photograph of Jade Breen by Cathy Breen
Photograph of Jade Breen by Cathy Breen

The arrival of the bogong moths in Ngambri Country indicated the start of a period of ceremonies for young men, for their initiation. Families from many different places travelled here to participate. We called it 'Running to the feast'.

Dr Matilda House, Ngambri Elder

The global pandemic has emphasised the importance of connection – to family, community and culture – while we negotiate the equally important ‘new normal’ of venue limits and social distancing. The National Portrait Gallery commissioned artist Jonathan Jones to present an interpretation of this altered social landscape. His response is the striking Bogong Cluster, a light projection installed at high-traffic points throughout the Gallery. Its 1.5 metre diameter is a prompt for visitors to maintain social distancing, while its immersive design reflects pivotal community connection through the lens of Jonathan’s Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi heritage, as he explains:

‘For countless generations bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) have migrated south, seeking cooler conditions over summer. The arrival of the bogongs signals an important time in the south-east Aboriginal calendar, when communities come together to share and celebrate. For Aboriginal people, natural phenomena – including the bogong moth migration – continues to connect us and remind us of community. In these uncertain times, with physical gatherings restricted, we can all still recall major events such as the bogong moth migration, and remain connected to each other through nature. Standing within the cluster of bogong, nature activates our cultural memory and speaks of our deep cultural relationships with, and responsibilities to, the natural world.’

Dr Matilda House and Jonathan Jones discuss Bogong Cluster
Video: 7 minutes
Jonathan Jones

A member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, Jonathan Jones is an artist, curator and researcher. As an artist he works across a range of mediums to create site-specific installations and interventions that engage Aboriginal practices, relationships and knowledge. At the heart of Jonathan’s practice is the act of collaborating, and many projects have seen him work with other artists and communities, including with Dr Uncle Stan Grant Senior AM. In 2016 Jonathan presented the 32nd Kaldor Public Art Project, barrangal dyara: skin and bones, at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and in 2018 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in the field of visual arts.

Bogong Cluster
Bogong Cluster. Physically distant, socially connected, 2020 Jonathan Jones. Projected light installation. Commissioned 2020. The artist acknowledges Ngambri Country and the support of Dr Matilda House
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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