Art has always been a way to influence public opinion, but a group of artists has taken this to the next level with an exhibition at Old Parliament House exhibits confrontational works of art, in Canberra.
Brooke Boney

23 Oct 2013 - 8:45 PM  UPDATED 23 Oct 2013 - 10:06 PM

The confrontational messages are on display as part of the "Art of Influence" series.

Artist Vernon Ah Kee's works for this exhibition are phrases, in bold type, written across the wall.

"[One of the works] is about bigotry," says Vernon Ah Kee.

"It is about how the bigot puts himself at the centre of every situation. And everything that doesn't appeal to his ideas and his sensitivities are in error. And that sums up this country's relationship with blackfellas."

This is theme of the exhibition, conveying experiences of entrenched racism in art so everyone can understand.

"We're hoping that a lot of people come through and get challenged by the work and hopefully that they learn something," says artist Richard Bell from the Proppanow collective.

One of the artists involved says sometimes it's the opposite reaction from people, that lets them know they've done their job.

"And you know if people react that way that's ok and in fact it's good," says artist Gordon Hookey from the Proppanow Collective.

"You know, they say in the arts it's more of a crime to be ignored so when people see your work and react in some kind of way that can only be positive."

Before the masses have even seen the exhibition, just hanging the works in Old Parliament House is a surreal enough experience for Jennifer Herd - the place where a lot of decisions were made that have impacted her life and her work.

"This is the first time I've been to Parliament House and I was thinking wow this is an experience, I should savour this expereince," says artist Jennifer Herd from the Proppanow Collective.