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News - 27th of June 2017

MEDIA RELEASE | When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum

MEDIA RELEASE | When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum

PICA partners with Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of WA to present When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum

Art As Activism

A landmark exhibition of Western Australian Aboriginal art acknowledging and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, When the Sky Fell runs from 2 July – 20 August at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Curated by established visual arts curator, Clothilde Bullen, and featuring a diverse range of media by artists with distinctive and distinguished practices, When the Sky Fell weaves together a range of responses and narrative threads about the historical and ongoing impact of the 1967 Referendum.

In speaking of this central theme Bullen says, “in modern Australian history, the 1967 Referendum was considered a watershed moment – in the eyes of white Australians – for Indigenous Australians across the country. But I wondered whether this moment, and the anniversary celebrations, could be unpacked and interrogated to discover whether the impact and consequences were as clear cut and positive as they have been framed to be.”

The resulting exhibition of art offers a challenging, yet playful, response with incredibly beautiful and diverse pieces including saddles and satellite dishes, large-scale wall works, works on canvas in natural pigments, works on paper and sculptural installations.

Working collaboratively with Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of Western Australia (AACHWA), Bullen identified a range of artistic communities who have historically felt the impact of the consequences of the Referendum; including the Nyoongar community and artists from the East Kimberley and Gascoyne regions.

“I was interested in artists who may have had generational outcomes and experiences with regards to the impact of the Referendum and, in some ways, this meant thinking about the show as a historical show with a contemporary resonance,” Bullen explains.

A cornerstone in Australian politics, the 1967 Referendum removed two references in the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal people. 2017 marks the 50th anniversary an event that was considered by many to be a critical turning point for the prevailing movement for political change within Indigenous affairs.

“PICA is committed to providing both a platform for the voices and concerns of Aboriginal Australians as well as new ways for us to consider our social and political histories,” says Director Amy Barrett-Lennard.

“This exhibition and its associated public programs do just that and we are thrilled to be working, for the first time, with the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of WA and with leading Indigenous Art Curator Clothilde Bullen in the creation and presentation of this landmark exhibition.”

Coinciding with NAIDOC Week as well as the University of Western Australia Law School’s Art in Law in Art Conference (4-5 July) at the Art Gallery of WA, When the Sky Fell features over 70 works from over 25 artists and runs at PICA Galleries 2 July – 20 August, 2017.

Launching on Saturday 1 July at PICA’s major donor event, the PICA Salon Vernissage, When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum brings together a range of artists who continue to lay claim to country and document the history of those places significantly affected by the 1967 Referendum decision.



Waringarri Arts, Kununurra

Alan Griffiths
Peggy Griffiths
Peter Newry
Mignonette Jamin

Yamaji Arts, Geraldton

Charmaine Green

Mangkaja Arts, Fitzroy Crossing

Mervyn Street
John Prince Siddon

Nyoongar artists

Sharyn Egan

Warlayirti Artists, Balgo Hills

Jimmy Tchooga
Jeanie Daniels
Larry Gundora

Warmun Arts, Turkey Creek

Freddie Timms
Rammey Ramsey
Kathy Ramsey
Gabriel Nodea
Shirley Purdie
Rusty Peters
Lindsay Malay
Patrick Mung Mung

Warakurna Arts, Warakurna

Eunice Porter
Manupa Butler
Judith Yinyika Chambers
Erica Shorty Ikungka
Nola Campbell Yurnangurnu
Carol Maanyatja Golding
Nancy Nyanyarna Jackson
Nola Campbell Yurnangurnu
Carol Mannyatja Golding


Listing Details


When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum
Date 2 July – 20 August, 2017
Location Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth Cultural Centre, 51 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003


PICA Salon Vernissage 2017
Date and Time Saturday 1 July, 2017 | 7pm – 10pm
Location Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts Perth Cultural Centre 51 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003
Donate Become an ART1000 Donor for as little as $100/month here.
P: (08) 9228 6300 E: Event

When the Sky Fell: Opening Celebration
Date Sunday 2 July
Time 2pm – 4pm
Location Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth Cultural Centre, 51 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003

Goologoolup NAIDOC Week Celebration
Date Saturday 8 July
Time 10am – 5pm
Location Perth Cultural Centre 51 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003


Media Enquiries

Anarchy PR

Adriana Begovich
M 0418 929 095

Kirby Bonavita
M 0421 762 985


Download PDF version:
PICA Media Release – When the Sky Fell



PICA would like to give a huge thanks to Christine Scoggin, CEO, and Charmaine Green, Chair, of the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub WA; exhibition curator Clothilde Bullen, all the artists and the following art centres: Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency; Warakurna Artists; Waringarri Aboriginal Arts; Warlayirti Artists; Warmun Art Centre and Yamaji Art; those that loaned works for the exhibition, including Meredith Bastian, Hugh Briotti, Emilia Galatis, Tom Griffiths, Sophie Lawrence, Jen Lowe, Jane Menzies, Renae Newman, Julienne Penny, Thelma Pye, Helen Read, Emily Rohr, Zoe Roy and Matt Ward; the Department of Culture and the Arts; Wesfarmers Arts; the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority; Grace; Plastic Sandwich and Dulux.

Image credit: Alan Griffith, Early Days, 2013, Natural pigment on canvas, 90 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Waringarri Aboriginal Arts