Kent Morris

Born: 1964, Bindal and Wulgurukaba Country, Townsville
Lives and works on Yauk-ut Weelam Country, Melbourne

Kent Morris is an artist of Barkindji and Irish heritage living on Yauk-ut Weelam Country in Melbourne. 

Central themes in his art practice are the connections between contemporary Indigenous experience and contemporary cultural practices and their continuation and evolution. His photography practice reveals the continued presence and patterns of Aboriginal history, knowledge and culture in the contemporary Australian landscape. Through digital photographic processes, Morris engages audiences by manipulating technological structures and nature into new forms that reflect Indigenous knowledge systems and cultural continuity since time immemorial.

The intertwining of Aboriginal cultural knowledge systems, technology and the built environment is an important and integral element to Morris’s work. By visually deconstructing and reassembling western systems, he mirrors the methodical disassembly and denial of Aboriginal cultural knowledge and highlights his desire to reshape and reaffirm contemporary thought, understanding and truth about the deep-time existence of Aboriginal philosophy and knowledge and the role they continue to play in today’s society.

For WILAM BIIK; Barkindji Blue Sky-Ancestral Connections #11, 2021, manipulates elements from the built environment and nature on Morris’s Ancestral Country into new forms that reflect aspects of Aboriginal cultural heritage and reinforce cultural continuity since time immemorial. It highlights the importance of the continuous transmission of culture for First Nations communities. As a symbol of increasing technological interconnectivity, the reshaped telecommunication infrastructure begins to embody old and new knowledge systems merging, like a modern-day virtual message stick.

The photographs that form the work were taken during a family reunion on Kurnu Barkindji Country in Bourke, New South Wales, where the artist’s family connected, remembered, and exchanged information. During this rare family gathering of the descendants of Jacky and Kitty Knight, a small flock of kiinki (corellas) gathered around the top of a nearby telecommunications tower, perching and flying between an array of Yagi, panel and aluminium dish antennas.

The kiinki reflect the important Barkindji Ancestral constellation story about two sisters called kiinki’ngulu, the two white cockatoos (corellas) in the sky, representing ancient and ongoing links to the Magellanic clouds, two dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way. This narrative connects Barkindji people to their Ancestors and the cosmos in a cultural continuum of shared knowledge that reinforces spiritual cohesion and an unbreakable connection to Country.