Eddie Koiki Mabo Library Art Exhibition
An exhibition of the artworks of Gail Mabo, Koiki’s daughter, was held on the first anniversary of the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library. This was to be the first of an ongoing series of exhibitions in memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo, held from 21 May for three weeks, with the aim to coincide with National Sorry Day (26 May), National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) and Mabo Day (3 June).
The exhibition is a public event that is intended to provide JCU staff, students and visitors to the library a way to engage with the works of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and the themes that shape those works. It provides a way to reconnect with the Mabo story and the issues facing the First Nations people of the lands now called Australia through a vibrant and engaging medium that interacts with the library space.
For the first 10 years of the exhibition, an artist was selected in consultation with Gail Mabo (the exhibition’s patron) to feature as the exhibition artist of that year. In 2018, the 10th anniversary of the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, all of the previous artists were brought back for a retrospective exhibition (that also featured new works by the artists). From 2018 onwards, the exhibition organisers have looked for ways to utilise different exhibition formats to ensure this unique way to honour the memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo remains contemporary and inclusive.
2009 – Gail Mabo, Mabo Kara Art
The first anniversary of the library’s naming was commemorated with an inaugural exhibition featuring the works of nationally acclaimed artist Gail Mabo – Koiki and Bonita’s daughter.
Gail Mabo has been an internationally recognised artist, dancer, writer and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and culture for many years. Her ability to share and educate wider Australia – and the world – about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures is highly valued. In her own way, Gail continues her father’s work, inspiring the world through the beauty and value of Torres Strait Islander culture.
Gail’s exhibition, Mabo Kara Art, presented a number of landscapes that illustrated the connection between spirits and Country, showing how the spirits of her people were entrenched in the land.
Following are images of the exhibition flyers for the various exhibitions from 2009 – 2022.
2010 – Susan Peters Nampitjin, Winkirr (Dreaming and Reflections of Country)
2012 – Gail Mabo, 17
2013 – Aicey Zaro, Kara Uteb, Kara Nerkep (My Home, My Heart)
2014 – Sharon Banjo, My Land, My Art, My People
2015 – Teho Ropeyarn, Mandang Ikamba (Strength of a Crocodile)
2016 – Tommy Pau, Ad Wer: Story of the Stars from Eastern Torres Strait Island
2017 – Gail Mabo, Reflections: 25 Years On
2018 – Mabo Library Art Exhibition Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Naming of the Library
In 2018, for the 10th anniversary of the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, the exhibition featured previous artists from the past exhibitions, in order to showcase their past and current work. The exhibition contained works by Gail Mabo, Tommy Pau, Teho Ropeyarn, Sharon Banjo, Aicey Zaro and Susan Peters Nampitjin. Over the past ten years, artworks by each of the artists has been purchased for the James Cook University Art Collection to commemorate the Mabo legacy.
2020 – Inaugural Artist in Residence Program
In 2020, the library hosted an Artist Residency Program – Drawn to the Mabo Library – which took place in the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, including Special Collections and the surrounding grounds of the Townsville campus.
The intention of this program was to open the library for artists to interpret and respond visually and creatively to:
- the library’s buildings and public spaces,
- relevant items in the Special Collections, and
- the program theme: People, Place, Knowledge, Legacy.
Townsville-based artist, Rob Douma was chosen as the inaugural Artist in Residence. Douma (the first non-Indigenous artist to present in an Eddie Koiki Mabo Art Exhibition) was selected by a panel of judges (including Gail Mabo) from a shortlist of three finalists taken from eight applicants, with his clear and well presented proposal and folio of works. Douma spent a lot of time drawing in and around the library and the resulting exhibition was very popular with staff and students alike. A series of videos were produced to document the residency and a virtual tour was made of the exhibition.