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WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
From Little Things Big Things Grow includes some fascinating objects from the National Museum's National Historical Collection. Many have never been exhibited before. Highlights include:
Portrait of Anthony Martin Fernando
by Raj Nagi
A portrait of an unknown Indigenous Australian activist, Anthony Martin Fernando, who took Aboriginal protest to London in the 1920s. Standing outside London's Australia House in his skeleton-decorated coat, his cry was: 'This is what the Australian government has done to my people'.
As there are no known photographs of Fernando, the artist did not include the whole face in this imagined portrait.
Right: Raj Nagi's portrait of Anthony Martin Fernando. Reprographer: George Serras.
Yirrkala bark petition
One of four 'Yirrkala bark petitions' prepared by the Yolngu Elders in 1963. The petitions called for Indigenous land rights to be recognised and for there to be no mining on Yolngu land.
Two of the petitions were presented to Australia's Commonwealth Parliament. They were the first documents accepted by Parliament which incorporated Indigenous ways of representing relationships to land. This petition was presented to The Honourable Gordon Bryant MP.
Bill Onus' Australian Aborigines League banner
The League was an important Aboriginal protest organisation and this very rare 1940s protest banner reads: 'The voice of the Aborigine must be heard'.
The exhibition has a strong focus on Indigenous voices. Contemporary interviews, quotes and archival film footage allow visitors to learn about this important period in Australian history with the benefit of Indigenous perspectives.
Compelling personal stories
From Little Things Big Things Grow features captivating contemporary interviews with Indigenous Australians who experienced the injustices of this period. Uncover their harrowing personal stories of discrimination and survival.
One of the many moving stories is Joan Winch's childhood recollection of having to win a running race twice because she was Indigenous.
Early voices of protest
The exhibition features footage of Aboriginal elder Joe Anderson, also known as 'King Burraga'. In 1933 he was filmed declaring a plan to petition the King of England, and calling for equal rights and justice for Indigenous Australians:
'150 years ago the Aboriginals owned Australia and today, he demands more than the white man's charity. He wants the right to live!'
Joe Anderson, 'King Burraga' September 1933
View the 1933 footage of 'King Burraga' (MPEG4 1.7mb)
Cinesound Movietone Productions, Thought Equity Motion.
Courtesy: Ronin Films.
From Little Things Big Things Grow gives visitors the opportunity to view original footage from the 1965 Freedom Ride, taken by one of the Freedom Riders, James Spigelman.
The Freedom Riders, a group of Sydney University students, travelled around rural New South Wales targeting sites of discrimination. One of the sites was the Ray-Mond Theatre in Bowraville. Like many other Australian cinemas, this venue provided wooden seats for Indigenous patrons and plush seats for others. Some of these seats are now on display for the very first time in this exhibition.
View James Spigelman's insider footage of the 1965 Freedom Ride (MPEG4 21.3mb) duration 9:28. Courtesy: The Hon J J Spigelman AC.
The exhibition title From Little Things Big Things Grow comes from the song of the same name by Australian artists Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody. Written in the 1980s it tells the inspiring story of the Gurindji people's struggle for equality and land rights. Visitors can hear the song in the exhibition.