Touring exhibition: Sydney Elders

Portraits of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders by Mervyn Bishop.


Mervyn Bishop

Mervyn Bishop
Photographer: Carl Bento © Australian Museum

Traditionally, Aboriginal elders had the very important role of
teaching survival, social and cultural knowledge to other members of
the community. While the term ‘elder’ denotes relatively advanced age,
it also implies respect for a person’s achievements. As such, elders were
regarded as the leaders of tribes and clans and responsible for making
all-important decisions in the community. Today, Aboriginal elders still
play an important role as educators and community decision-makers.

This exhibition celebrates the significant commitment and
achievements of a number of Indigenous elders who are living in
Sydney on Eora Country. The Australian Museum is presenting these
portraits and their associated life stories to highlight the important
role elders have played in achieving change and justice for the
Indigenous community. The portraits will become a part of the
Museum’s collection for future generations to access.

The portraits were taken by renowned Aboriginal photographer
Mervyn Bishop. Mervyn has played his own significant role as a
historical documenter on Indigenous Australian experiences. This
now includes the documentation of these very important elders.

Exhibition package

  • 1 intro panel @ 810H x 560W mm
  • 21 framed portraits @ 1650H x 1150W mm
  • 21 accompanying labels @ 220H x 130W mm
  • 1 framed portrait of the photographer @ 1160H x 860W mm
  • 1 panel with photographer’s biography @ 810H x 560W mm
  • 1 x essay by Djon Mundine OAM – electronic copy available for venue to print


Louise Teteris

Project Coordinator – Touring Exhibitions

Touring Itinerary

4 to 27 March 2014 - NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney

Although this exhibition showcases some very important local elders, there are many more that we were not able to include. The Australian Museum would like to pay our respects to all of Sydney’s Elders who work tirelessly within our community, and thank one and all for their contribution. The Museum has worked closely with the local Indigenous community to make this exhibition possible and would like to extend our thanks to the elders and community for their support in making this exhibition possible.


Louise Teteris , Project Coordinator – Touring Exhibitions
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