This series explores the rich history of Indigenous linework, from the specific techniques of line-drawing that express Indigenous philosophies of self and community, to the methodologies of storytelling and network building that join Indigenous people to their past, and to other Indigenous communities across Australia and the world.

Linework’s past and future will be explored by: Julie Nagam (University of Winnipeg), Gerald McMaster (OCAD University), Djon Mundine (independent curator), Bernice Murphy (co-ounded, MCA Sydney), Matt Poll (Chau Chak Wing Museum), Rebecca Conway (Chau Chak Wing Museum), Jonathan Jones (artist), Kimberley Moulton (Melbourne Museum), and others.

Upcoming Events

(More events will be added throughout the year.)

Djalkiri: Histories of Indigenous Linework | Djon Mundine, Bernice Murphy, Matt Poll, Rebecca Conway and Gerald McMaster

Thursday, 18 March 2021
12:00-1:30pm (AEST)

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Linework Scholars

Julie Nagam is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and is an Associate Professor in the department of Art History at the University of Winnipeg.  She is the inaugural Artistic Director for 2020-22 for Nuit Blanche Toronto, the largest public exhibition in North America. Dr. Nagam’s SSHRC research includes digital makerspaces + incubators, mentorship, digital media + design, international collaborations and place-based knowledge ( As a scholar and artist she is interested in revealing the ontology of land, which contains memory, knowledge and living histories. Her artistic work has been exhibited internationally, including in Brazil, France, New Zealand, and England, which includes solo and group exhibitions. She is the Terra Foundation Visiting Scholar at the University of Sydney (AUS) for 2021-22. Dr. Nagam is the Director of Aabijijiwan New Media Lab ( and Co-Director of Kishaadigeh Collaborative Research Centre in Winnipeg, Canada. (Photo: Kali Spitzer)

Gerald McMaster is a curator, artist, author, professor, and director of the Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge, OCAD University (Toronto). With over 30 years of international work and expertise in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and indigenous aesthetics, he has worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. As curator, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale (1995) and the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale (2018). In 2012 he was Artistic Director to the 18th Biennale of Sydney (Australia). His most recent book Iljuwas Bill Reid: Life & Work was published in 2020. McMaster is a nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) and a citizen of the Siksika First Nation.

Matt Poll is Assistant Curator of Indigenous Heritage collections of the Chau Chak Wing Museum, and also works as the repatriation project officer at the University of Sydney. Previously Matt worked as Artistic director of Boomalli gallery In Leichhardt and his recent curatorial work includes new exhibitions Chau Chak Wing Museum include the exhibitions ‘Gululu dhuwala djalkiri: welcome to the Yolŋu foundations’ and ‘Ambassadors’. Matt also has experience in relation to Aboriginal public art facilitation in Sydney including senior involvement in ‘the gathering space’ and as a project artist for the artwork ‘tools of knowledge’ at the new Westmead hospital redevelopment project (2020).

Bernice Murphy was the first Curator of Contemporary Art at the AGNSW Sydney (1979–83); then committed for 15 years, in various roles, to the development of Sydney University’s Power Gallery of Contemporary Art into the MCA Sydney – finally becoming the second Director of the MCA in the late 1990s. A commitment to the exhibition and building of collections of Aboriginal art as contemporary art, and the enabling of First Nations curatorship, have been advocated in her exhibitions, writing and museum work since the early 1980s.

About the Series

Over the past 40 years, Indigenous art has found itself at the centre of debates about contemporary art. In response to the ongoing movement towards decolonization, institutions like the Power Institute have sought to rethink the lines that delimit our understandings of art making, thinking, and curating.

Indigenous people have, of course, long been drawing their own lines, in practices that preceded and survived colonial settlement. This lecture series seeks to explore the richness of Indigenous linework.

‘Linework’ evokes several meanings. For the many Indigenous peoples across Australia, the line has long been a technique for materialising and transmitting complex philosophies of law, ecology, identity, and community. Just like the dot, the line links a diversity of Indigenous art practices, from the minty’tji of Yolŋu artists in Australia’s Top End, to the murruwaygu used by Aboriginal male artists in Australia’s south-east (as researched by Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist and writer Jonathan Jones).

Linework is also present in Indigenous methods of history telling, and community building. Yorta Yorta writer and curator Kimberley Moulton, among many others, has described the way ‘storyline’ provides a way to re-claim her heritage and objects from the museums that appropriate them. Indeed, Indigenous artists, critics and curators are constantly recovering and inventing new lines of connection to their past, and to other Indigenous peoples across Australia and the world. Such a project is at the heart of the work of Indigenous scholars and curators Gerald McMaster and Julie Nagam.

This series brings together Indigenous voices from across Australia, and the world.

Presented by

The Power Institute’s collaboration with Julie Nagam and Gerald McMaster is made possible by a grant from the Terra Foundation.