Mabo Art

An exhibition of the works of Gail Mabo, daughter of famed Indigenous land rights activist Eddie Koiki Mabo, will be opened at James Cook University this evening (Thursday, May 21).

Gail’s exhibition, Mabo Kara Art (Mabo My Art) will coincide with the first anniversary of the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library at JCU.

Gail said having her art shown in the library named after her father was a great honour.

“The University honoured my father by naming the library after him and now they’re honouring me by allowing to hang my art, these pieces of me, in here. I’m very touched,” Gail said.

The artwork in Mabo Kara Art features a variety of landscapes and designs and uses a combination of contemporary urban art and traditional Indigenous techniques. The array of works is a vibrant mix of colours and shapes.

“I paint things that I’ve seen that inspire me. One of the paintings, called New Beginnings, is of a sunrise I saw at a beach near Bowen. When I was looking at the sunrise I thought to myself, ‘Wow! What a wonderful way to start a day’ and I decided I’d paint it,” Gail said.

“What I see in a painting might be different to what other people see in my paintings. For example, when I use blue, I’m often thinking of the ocean, but people in Europe wouldn’t necessarily think that because they don’t have such a connection with the ocean.”

“This just means that I can reach a greater audience,” Gail said.

Gail will also be holding an Indigenous Art Workshop on Wednesday, May 27 at 9.30am at the Mabo Library. The workshop will include discussions on Gail’s art, and other Indigenous artists as well as the history and different styles of Indigenous art.

The exhibition will be opened by Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann who said the University was hoping to hold an annual Indigenous art exhibition to coincide with Mabo Day (June 3) and Reconciliation Week (May 27-June 3).

“The Library was renamed the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library to reinforce the University’s commitment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia and having Gail’s art, and in the future the art of other Indigenous artists, is a great way to recognise the Indigenous culture and to honour one of the most important historical figures in Australia,” Professor Vann said.

Professor Vann will officially open Mabo Kara Art at 5.00pm tonight (Thursday May 21) at the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library at JCU’s Douglas Campus.

Mabo Kara Art will be open from May 21 until June 3. For Library opening times, please visit To attend the workshop please contact Helen Hooper on

Issued: Thursday, May 21, 2009

Media Enquiries: Jo Meehan, JCU Media on 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175