Erin Vink on Daniel Boyd

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Daniel Boyd


oil, pastel, archival glue on canvas
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Bulgari Art Award 2014
© Daniel Boyd

In June, I visited Daniel Boyd at his Marrickville studio to interview him for the Gallery’s Together In Art project. Both being Aboriginal people, our conversation turned naturally to the Black Lives Matter movement and questions around the importance of monuments. That week, Dan and I had watched as police gathered to protect the monument of James Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

Created in 2014, Dan’s Untitled speaks to the racial injustices inflicted upon First Nations people and people of colour since colonisation. When I look at this painting, I don’t just see an idyllic scene of Ni-Vanuatu people at a waterfall. I see the men and women who were enslaved and brought to Australia never to return home again.

Dan sees his paternal great-great-grandfather who was ‘blackbirded’ and forced to work on sugarcane plantations in Queensland. Dan is directly linked to this historical trauma and we are both reminded of it as we pass the monuments to ‘colonial heroes’ across Sydney. That is why it’s important that non-Indigenous Australians understand how we relate to these histories, and why we are protesting as part of this movement.

Erin Vink, decoloniser, assistant curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, cake baker

View this work and more as part of the Gallery’s collection online