Project 32
Jonathan Jones

Project Summary

For the 32nd Kaldor Public Art Project Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones presented barrangal dyara (skin and bones), a vast sculptural installation stretching across 20,000 square-metres of the Royal Botanic Garden. 

The Project recalled the 19th century Garden Palace building where it originally stood in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, before it devastatingly burnt to the ground along with countless Aboriginal objects collected along the colonial frontier. The project was Jones’ response to the immense loss felt throughout Australia due to the destruction of these culturally significant items. It represented an effort to commence a healing process and a celebration of the survival of the world’s oldest living culture despite this traumatic event.

Thousands of bleached white shields echoed masses of rubble—the only remnants of the building after the fire—and raised the layered history and bones of the Garden Palace across the site. A native kangaroo grassland formed the heart of the installation, and was enlivened by presentations of Indigenous language, performances, talks, special events and workshops each day.

The project connects directly with many Aboriginal communities throughout the south-east of Australia, who collaborated to reframe local history. The artwork took its name, barrangal dyara, meaning ‘skin and bones,’ from the local Sydney Gadigal language, on whose country the project took place with approval from the community.

Members of Aboriginal communities are respectfully advised that content about this exhibition refers to the loss of cultural objects from across the south-east of Australia.

barrangal dyara (skin and bones)
17 September – 3 October 2016
Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

Sydney's Forgotten Ancestor
  Historic Photography Exhibition
17 September - 3 October 2016
Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney 

Spot Fire Symposia Series
Landscape and language
7 May 2016
State Library of New South Wales

Spectacle, manifestation, performance
16 July 2016
Art Gallery of New South Wales

Loss and resilience
6 August 2016
Australian Museum

Play the audio described tour of barrangal dyara (skin and bones) for the blind and vision impaired here



Currently exhibiting at

Sydney's Forgotten Ancestor

Jonathan Jones rose the 19th Century Garden Palace into Australia’s consciousness, forgotten in a societal amnesia for the last century. Colonial architect James Barnet constructed the palace in 1879 for Sydney’s International Exhibition. A symbol of both nation-building and internationalism, the Australian courts displayed local raw materials and objects representing the colony’s ‘progress’. The comparison of this material with the Ethnological Court—a limited display of mostly men’s weapons and ancestral remains collected along the Australian frontier—promoted ideas of savagery, Social Darwinism and continued the assertion of terra nullius. In 1882 a devastating fire destroyed the Garden Palace and its contents, including this wealth of Aboriginal cultural material.

Continuing the tradition of oral story telling present on country for generations, images of Sydney’s Garden Palace and the International Exhibition were not displayed on the building’s original site throughout barranga dyara (skin and bones). Visitors were asked to imagine Sydney’s forgotten ancestor, the vast palace which crowned the city’s skyline for just three years, raising its bones into our collective memory.

A selection of historic photographs of the Garden Palace and Sydney’s International Exhibition including the Ethnological Court, were displayed in the Palm House – a short walk from the main project site. Designed by the Garden Palace’s colonial architect James Barnet in 1876, this small historic greenhouse is a surviving witness to the fire.


Spot Fire Symposia

The ferocious fire in 1882 ignited spot fires throughout the city, some reaching as far Woolloomooloo and Balmain. In the lead-up to barrangal dyara (skin and bones), a series of three Spot Fire Symposia was held to discuss the themes that emerged from the ashes of the historic fire. This series was developed in collaboration with academic Ross Gibson, Centenary Professor of Creative & Cultural Research at the University of Canberra, and took place at three cultural institutions with profound historic connections to the Garden Palace and International Exhibition: the State Library of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Australian Museum.

Image: Remains of the Garden Palace after the fire in 1882. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

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Video SeriesBack to top

Episode 1: Gadigal Land

Episode 2: The Garden Palace and The Fire

Episode 3: Grasslands

Episode 4: Shields

Episode 5: Language

CatalogueBack to top

Not available!

This catalogue recovers fragments of the lost story of Sydney’s Garden Palace and its intersecting histories through an investigation of ideas around architecture, landscape, collection and display, language and cultural identity. Celebrating the resilience and survival of the world’s oldest living cultures, barrangal dyara (skin and bones) is at the forefront of a long-awaited acknowledgement and renaissance of Indigenous culture and language in Australia.

This beautifully designed publication is richly illustrated throughout, featuring over 100 large-scale historical and contemporary images and illustrations. Edited by Genevieve O'Callaghan, it includes original essays and interviews with leading Aboriginal writers including Bruce Pascoe – winner of two 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards – Jeanine Leane, Hetti Perkins and Uncle Stan Grant Sr AM, alongside Australian academics Ross Gibson, Peter Kohane, Ilaria Vanni Accarigi and barrangal dyara (skin and bones) curator Emma Pike.

Jonathan JonesBack to top

Sydney-based Aboriginal artist Jonathan Jones, a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, works across a range of mediums, from printmaking and drawing to sculpture and film. He creates site-specific installations and interventions into space that use light, subtle shadow and the repetition of shape and materiality to explore Indigenous practices, relationships and ideas. Jones often works with everyday materials, such as fluorescent lights and blue tarpaulin, recycled and repurposed to explore relationships between community and the individual, the personal and public, historical and contemporary. He has worked on several major public art commissions, including the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Sydney and Wagga Wagga Regional Airport.

In past projects Jones has sought to represent both the traditional and contemporary by working with the particular site’s historical usage and current vision. Often perceived as oppositional, these two frameworks are in fact linked, sharing commonalities and connections; Jones’ artworks serve to honour both contexts. At the heart of Jones’ practice is the act of collaborating, and many projects have seen him work in conjunction with other artists and communities to develop outcomes that acknowledge local knowledge systems to connect the site with local concerns.

Jones has exhibited both nationally and internationally: in Australia at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and overseas at the Palazzo delle Papesse Contemporary Art Centre, Siena, Italy, and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Canada, among others.


We are grateful to our Aboriginal Advisory Board who offered valuable advice and support throughout the development and presentation of the Project:

Christine Evans
- Chief Education Officer, Aboriginal Education, Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES)

Jason Glanville – Chairperson of the Australian Institute of Indigenous Governance and Director of the Indigenous Leadership Centre

Michael McDaniel - Director, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney

Uncle Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden – Gadigal elder

Hetti Perkins – Curator

Left to right: Christine Evans, Jason Glanville, Uncle Charles 'Chicka' Madden, Michael McDaniel and Hetti Perkins.

PublicationsBack to top

This on site guide features an exclusive interview with Jonathan Jones.

This Education Kit is designed to help students and educators understand and engage with the themes of Jonathan Jones’ barrangal dyara (skin and bones). It includes activities and questions designed for Stages 2-6, which can be incorporated into classroom learning in Aboriginal studies, visual arts, history and science, and a comprehensive list of references with online links to additional resources.


LEARNING STAGES: Primary (Stage 2-3) | Secondary (Stage 4-6, Extension)

CONTENTS: Project overview | The Garden Palace and the Sydney International Exhibition | Kangaroo grass | Shields | South-east Aboriginal languages | Resilience and continuity in the south-east | Artist’s practice | In the classroom | Glossary of Aboriginal terms | References

Project SupportersBack to top

Presenting Partner

Lead Patrons

Lead Corporate Partner

Corporate Partners


Government Partners

Philanthropic Partners


Language Collaborators

Sydney Aboriginal Language
Uncle Chicka Madden, Summer Loggins, Lille Madden, Madeleine Madden, Miah Madden and Ruby Madden with assistance from Jeremy Steele

Michael Jarrett, Jenni Farrands, Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative, 3rd Space Mob Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, and the children of Bellingen High School, Macksville High School, Nambucca Heads High School and Bowraville Central School.
Lenny Davis-Bull, Tahahni Berge, Dylan Berger, Brendon Brown, Ricky Buchanan, Olivia Bula-Ratuverebukui, Hannah Campbell, Eachan Clarke, Timmy Davis-Bull, McKye Davis-Tucknott, Danielle Dent, Shaina-Lee Donovan, Marcus Duckott, Antoinette Edwards, Paul Evans, Savanah Fraser, Milah Hollinsworth, Martikka Hunter, Isaac Jarrett, Kahtarni Jarrett, Kasharni Jarrett, Shantahla Jarrett-Marks, Lisa Kelly, Lindsay Kingsley, Daryll Lockwood, Conway Marshall, Fiona McAulay, Jessica McEwen, Rowena McGregor, Gloria Mercy, Hayley Mitchell, Kaylah Caroline Naden, Trista Richards, Rosie Stephen, Louie Taverner, Simo Waterboy, Renee Watson-Jarrett, Mark Werner and Michael White with Uncle Martin Ballo.

Aaron Ellis, and the children of Tamworth Public School and Walhallow Public School.
Chris Brown-Johnson, Ruby Clegg, Jacinta Coe, Sophie Cooper, Baxter Daly, Maddison Dawson, Daniel Dunn, Grace Ellis, Noah Evans, Jalira Hunt, Ziva Jordan, Matthew Kingdom, Klallin Knox, Isabelle Kolesnikoff, Jeremaia Marawa, Amelia McGinty, Connor McLean, Samantha Morgan, Amarni Nean, Briseis Nean, Curtis Nean, Dylan Newman, Stephanie Nnorom, Willow Oldknow, Pavneet Singh, Jackson Solberg-Follington, Callum Steibert, Charlotte Steibert, Grace Storch and Jymaya Waters.

Joel Wright, Vicki Couzens and Victorian Aboriginal Corporations for Language

Aunty Verna Koolmatrie and the Raukkan Ngarrindjeri community

Warlpa Thompson, Kayleen Kerwin, William Mitchell and AJ Williams with the Paakantji Language Circle

Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin

Uncle Stan Grant Senior, Geoff Anderson, Lionel Lovett, Donna Payne, Skye Harris, Lyretta Gilby, Ron Wardrop and the children of Parkes Public School, Parkes East Public School, Middleton Public School, Parkes High School and Holy Family Primary School.
Kieran Baker, Lara Bennett, Kade Crist, Levi Edwards, Nicayden Greenwood, Caitlin Herft, Rebecca Kearney, Bayden Maran, Chelsea McGarrity, Ellynia Redfern, Trudy Richardson, Michael Riley, Samantha Riley, Kyah Turnbull and Ella Ward.

Education Partners


Lead tertiary partner

Corporate Supporter

Performance Partner

Public Program Partners


Spot Fire Symposia and Program Partners


Event Styling Partner


Media Partner


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In-Kind Supporters