Artist Jennifer Herd’s large-scale work Amplify/Defy will emerge over two levels of the ABC building façade as a beacon of truth-telling in the urban landscape of South Bank.
Jennifer explores the colouration properties of camouflage and combines them with references to the rainforest shields of her ancestors to create a bold visual language that amplifies the voice of her people and defies the ongoing silencing of Aboriginal perspectives in Australia’s history.
The expansive decal and its overlaying elements suggest defence and disguise—as a form of cultural identity—that has become a mode of survival.
The work asks broader society to lift its gaze, look past the camouflage and join the journey of truth-telling to create a deeper sense of place for all Australians.
Camouflage is a cryptic colouration science often used in nature and in military branding as a defence mechanism to conceal identity. In the design of her custom camouflage, Jennifer employs these properties to communicate the fact that Aboriginal perspectives have all too often been left out of the nation’s narrative by historians.
The Aboriginal shield designs that Jennifer intertwines with the camouflage, are connected to her mother’s country and pay tribute to the Bama warriors of the North Queensland rainforests. These warriors fought valiantly over many generations to defend their ancestral lands from frontier expansion, however their stories of resistance have rarely been acknowledged. The geometrical designs in the work reference the traditional painted shields unique to the region. These shields were not only objects of defence but also symbols of identity and conveyors of cultural knowledge.
Combining art with architecture, Jennifer also explores the disruptive visual qualities of camouflage. Blowing apart the fabric of the camouflage form and presenting it out of context in an urban environment works to amplify her message further.
About the Creator
Jennifer Herd is a renowned conceptual artist and one of the founding members of Queensland’s Aboriginal artist collective ProppaNow. Her creative practice spans many mediums and has included installation, painting, sculpture, photography and digital design.
Born in Brisbane, with family ties to the Mbarbarrum people of Far North Queensland, Jennifer’s art speaks of her experiences as an Aboriginal person and shares the untold histories of her people in Australia.
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