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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.

Carol McGregor

Born: 1961, Hastings, New Zealand
Works: Brisbane
Wathaurung people (VIC)

Artist statement

This body of work is like a small survey of my recent art practice.  I am of Aboriginal descent, and I embrace my heritage holistically by illuminating stories – particularly those that have been silenced.

‘The Great Australian Silence’ is a term conceived by Australian historian W E H Stanner for his 1968 Boyer lecture series, After the Dreaming. Stanner referred to the prevalent, systematic blanketing and omission of Aboriginal perspectives and stories from accounts of Australian history. I counter these omissions by exposing narratives that must be acknowledged, told and tabled.

I began making contemporary possum skin cloaks as a tangible way to connect to my Aboriginal great grandmother, Annie. Traditionally, these cloaks were personal, inscribed with images or patterns to signify where you are from, your place, totems and tribal stories. Harsh assimilation practices in Victoria left families like mine separated, with significant loss of cultural identity as a consequence. My family cloak, (in)visible, is a counter to that, as it links generations through the art on the skins. Making a cloak constitutes a powerful healing process: although separated by time and country, each generation touches another to pass on not only their DNA but also their knowledge. Accordingly, (in)visible is a testament to personal oral histories, cultural stories and continuing family journeys.

A progression from my cloak-making is the commencement of mapping South East Queensland’s Indigenous landscape, and its rich variety of native plants and food sources. Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s 2014 book Dark Emu – Black Seeds: agriculture or accident?, I am interested in the diverse traditional applications of plants by Aboriginal people.

As an Indigenous artist I am continually adapting and embracing new technologies to reclaim and connect to cultural expression; creating objects as vehicles of remembering that give physical form to shadows of the past; ‘un-silencing’ our stories to make the invisible visible; and working towards a more richly informed future.

Related people

Carol McGregor

Related information

Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey

So Fine

Contemporary women artists make Australian history

Previous exhibition, 2018

This exhibition features new works from ten women artists reinterpreting and reimagining elements of Australian history, enriching the contemporary narrative around Australia’s history and biography, reflecting the tradition of storytelling in our country.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.