During the 1860s, at the time of the NGV’s founding, William Barak (1863–1903) was a Wurundjeri leader and artist of great renown, working for his people at Coranderrk, near Healesville. In honour of the NGV’s 150th anniversary, the Felton Bequest commissioned three contemporary artists to create installations that honour Barak’s art and life.

Vernon Ah Kee’s Ideas of Barak, consists of three parts in different media. Jonathan Jones’s untitled (muyan) is an installation of five light boxes that pulse with LED geometric designs. Brook Andrew’s Marks and witness is a dizzying wall drawing of Wiradjuri designs of zigzag and diamond that reference Barak’s possum skin cloak designs.

These works are on display in the multimedia room of the Indigenous Galleries, above the escalator and in the stairwell of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square.

In this story, Vernon Ah Kee and Jonathan Jones talk about their creative process and Auntie Joy Murphy-Wandin talks about Barak, and the artists’ engagement with him, and about Barak’s work at Coranderrk.

CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users of this website are warned that this story contains images of deceased persons and places that could cause sorrow.