Lin Onus

Yorta Yorta people, born Australia 1948, died 1996

Lin Onus was born of Yorta Yorta and Scottish decent. His visits with his father to the Cummeragunja, on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, was the place of his cultural learning. Stories told by his uncle Aaron Briggs, known as ‘the old man of the forest’ provided Onus his Koori name — Burrinja, meaning ‘star’.

Onus was the recipient of many prestigious awards and appointments. These included the ‘Introduced media section’ in the Fifth National Aboriginal Art Award, Darwin, 1988; The Kate Challis RAKA Award (Ruth Adeney Koori Award), Melbourne, 1993; and being made a member of the Order of Australia on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List the same year.

It was as the Victorian representative of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council in 1986 that Onus had the opportunity to visit Maningrida in Arnhem Land and met traditional elders such as Jack Wunuwun, who became his adoptive father and mentor.

Urban Dingo: The Art and Life of Lin Onus 1948 – 1996, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane toured nationally in 2000 – 01. His untimely death in 1996 at the age of 47 was honoured by a tribute exhibition at Bunjilaka Gallery, Museum Victoria titled In Honour of Lin Onus, exhibited from 2001 to 2007.

In 1986 Onus was appointed a member of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council, and became Chairman of the Board from 1989 to 1992. Lin Onus was co-founder of the Aboriginal Arts Management Association in 1990 and a founding member and Director of Viscopy in 1995.

December 2010