Jonathan Jones winner of 'YOUR VERY GOOD IDEA'!

Friday, September 12, 2014

We would like to congratulate Jonathan Jones, winner of YOUR VERY GOOD IDEA, our premiere open call for Australian artists. 

John Kaldor made the announcement today, in the Rose Garden & Pavilion at the Royal Botanic Garden, where he was joined by Kim Ellis, Executive Director of the Garden, Mr Charles Madden, Hon. Minister for the Arts Troy Grant and Lord Mayor Clover Moore. It was delightful to see so many of our supporters including the other finalist of YVGI.  

Jonathan Jones and John Kaldor at the 'Your Very Good Idea' Winner Announcement. 

Photo: Dominic Kavanagh

Lord Mayor Clover Moore at the 'Your Very Good Idea' Winner Announcement. 

Photo: Dominic Kavanagh

Jonathan’s ambitious idea, titled barrangal dyara (skin and bones), is a re-imagination of the historic Garden Palace which stood in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, in the 19th century.  

Sydney-based Aboriginal artist Jonathan Jones, a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, works across a range of mediums. He is perhaps best known for his site-specific installations and interventions into space that use light, subtle shadow and the repetition of shape to explore Indigenous traditions, relationships and ideas.  

The Garden Palace, completed in 1879, hosted a world’s fair known as the Sydney International Exhibition. The galleries of the Garden Place proudly displayed wool, wheat and gold – as markers of the ‘new nation’ together with ethnographic collections collected from the frontier – designed to promote the idea of the ‘primitive’ man as commodity. By juxtaposing the two, the organisers sought to legitimise the genocide and dispossession of Aboriginal people from their lands. Three years after its construction the Garden Palace was burnt to the ground, in 1882. The flames destroyed troves of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultural material – leaving a profound cultural void still felt today. 

The Garden Palace in 1879. 

Photo courtesy: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Collection, Sydney 

The Garden Palace in 1879. 

Photo courtesy: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Photo Library Collection, Sydney 

Burning of the Garden Palace, Sydney, by Gibbs Shallard & Company, 1882. 

Photo courtesy: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Collection, Sydney 

barrangal dyara (skin and bones)
is the return of the 19th century Garden Palace and its deceased objects to the Nation. Jones’ concept, a re-imagining of the Garden Palace animated by evocative spoken word and performance, will reveal the significant cultural histories which were lost through the ruin of the Garden Palace.  

“While the grand nineteenth-century Garden Palace in Sydney, its history and site, speaks to industrial progress and modernisation, its dramatic and mysterious burning down and the massive loss of material held and displayed within, reminds of the power of cultural erasure and the significance of memory.” 

 - Jonathan Jones.   

In the past Jones’ projects have sought to represent both the traditional and contemporary by working with the particular site’s historical usage and current vision; Jones’s artworks serve to honour both contexts. Jones has worked on several major public art commissions, including Westpac Headquarters in Sydney and the AXA Insurance Group Offices in Melbourne. He has exhibited nationally and internationally: in Australia at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and overseas at the Palazzo delle Papesse Contemporary Art Centre, Siena, Italy, and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Canada. He has won awards for his work, including the 2002 New South Wales Indigenous Arts Fellowship from Arts NSW and the inaugural Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award from Queensland Art Gallery in 2006.