Photos from and activists archive
Visit an exhibition paying tribute to the life and work of Lisa Bellear, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of her passing in 2006.
A Minjungbul woman from Goernpil, Stradbroke Island with South Sea ancestry Bellear was primarily based in Melbourne pursuing her varied interests as an Indigenous activist, photographer, broadcaster, poet, feminist, academic and performer who was widely admired within the Australian Indigenous community.
Curated by close friends, artists Destiny Deacon and Virginia Fraser and cousin Kim Kruger, this exhibition showcases a selection from Bellear’s photographic collection, through which she documented over a quarter of a century of Indigenous community life including marches, community celebrations, portraits, signs and graffiti, and personal photographs. By 2006 she had created a collection of over 30,000 images, mostly of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“As someone who was removed from their family and subsequently given photographs of my mother and other family members, I know how important, obtaining or receiving a photograph … can be.” – Lisa Bellear, ATSI Health Services Directory Blog, 2006.
Bellear was rarely seen without her camera and her informal photographs captured the highs, lows and moments of tension in community life. This constant documenting was a form of protest in itself to reinforce Indigenous visibility “Otherwise it will be like we haven’t existed, and we’ve had that ‘there’s no Aboriginal people in Melbourne’ lie since the invasion.” (Lisa Bellear, The Age, 2004)
Her ideas of social exchange are embedded in her work and she believed in a form of reciprocity, exchange and shared ownership of the image between photographer and subject, often giving away copies of photographs to those featured in the image. Following her death, her family donated Bellear’s huge collection to the Koorie Heritage Trust, in keeping with her desire to return the images to her community.
This exhibition is proudly supported by Latrobe University, The University of Melbourne and Deakin University.
Image credit: Lisa Bellear, Black GST Protest, Camp Sovereignty, 2006, colour photograph, Lisa Bellear Collection Koorie Heritage Trust (detail)