The late Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Michael Riley is one of the most important Indigenous artists of the past two decades. Over his career he created an impressive body of work ranging from black & white portraiture to film, video and large-scale digital photographs. Throughout, his concern was to celebrate the spirit of his people while also bearing witness to their struggles. He had a deep commitment to the process of reconciliation.
I came across Michael’s work in 2004 during an exhibition at The Flinders University Art Gallery, then again recently while watching a documentary on Aboriginal art. His photographic work can be seen as autobiographical as they address the parallel meanings associated with Indigenous and Christian beliefs and how Colonisation and the words of the Bible led to the desacralisation of culture within many Aboriginal communites. Presented as large scale prints, the recurring themes in his work denotes this sense of loss.
The following images are from his Cloud, Sacrifice and Flyblown series’ of images.
more of Michael’s work can be found here.