• A Jordan Bennett Artwork. Picture: Campbelltown Arts Centre (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Aboriginal and Canadian artists come together in a joint exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in South-West Sydney to commemorate one of the first massacres of Indigenous Australians by the colonists.
Ryan Liddle

The Point
12 Apr 2016 - 7:24 PM  UPDATED 12 Apr 2016 - 7:24 PM

The theme of the 'With Secrecy and Despatch' exhibition is the shared violence suffered by Indigenous peoples in colonial times in both Australia and Canada.

The timing coincides with the 200-year anniversary of the Appin Massacre.

That massacre of a local Darawahl clan, was ordered by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1816, at a site only 20 minutes drive from Campbelltown.

Three years in the making, the exhibition aims to bring these sad, often overlooked and forgotten stories to light, in a contemporary manner aimed and promoting both understanding and reconciliation. 

Tess Allas, the Australian curator and Wiradjuri Woman, says the timing of the exhibition couldn't be better.

“The conversations happening in the media about Macquarie, about our shared histories I find really interesting. We've been working on this particular exhibition for over two years and it feels like we are having conversations, join our conversation, to make it broader, to make it so other people have a say, and other voices joining the conversation. So I'm really excited that other people are starting to discuss it in greater detail."

Australia and Canada, geographically speaking, couldn't be further apart, however, Tess believes we still share much in common.

"We have four Canadian First Nation artists taking part in this exhibition, their history and our history is one of shared colonisation, shared histories, shared brutalities, shared stealing of children, missions and reserves ... shared acts of colonisation."

Adrian Stimson is an interdisciplinary artist and member of the Siksika Blackfoot nation of Southern Alberta.

He travelled to Australia as the Canadian curator of the exhibition. Stimson was also invited to Sydney in September and visited the site of the Appin Massacre near Cataract Dam.

He believes that visit helped him in his approach to curating the Canadian side of the exhibition and his body of work.

"Given the  gravity and history of the respective sites, the trauma of the sites I wanted to make sure that I was respectful in how I approached it and didn't want to create a spectacle of sorts."

Mr Stimson added that "the works in this entire exhibition are poignant, are beautiful, but really speak to that tragic history of colonialism."

The 'With Secrecy and Despatch' exhibition will be on show at the Campbelltown Art Centre until June 12, 2016.