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NICI CUMPSTON 

 

Nici Cumpston’s gentle, quietly spoken demeanour belies a fierce and resolute passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the development and recognition of their artistic practice.  Born in Adelaide in 1963, Nici Cumpston, who is of Afghan, English, Irish and Barkindji Aboriginal heritage, is a descendant of the Darling River people of north western, New South Wales. She is also culturally affiliated with the River Murray people and lived for some years at Berri in the South Australian Riverland. 

 

Nici is simultaneously an artist, a curator, a writer, an educator and a builder of relationships.

 

Having studied fine arts, specialising in Photography at the University of South Australia, she has worked as a photographic lecturer at Tauondi Aboriginal Community College, Port Adelaide, as well as at the University of South Australia. She wrote and delivered the inaugural Indigenous Art, Culture and Design course to the South Australian School of Art students before commencing as the first Indigenous Curator at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2008.

 

She curated and co-wrote the publication for the major exhibition Desert Country held at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2011, which then toured nationally from 2011 - 2013. In collaboration with Project Curator, Lisa Slade they curated the major South Australian contemporary exhibition HEARTLAND in 2013She is currently Artistic Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Art Festival to be held at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2015. 

 

She has also been exhibiting her works of art since 1998 and in that time has been invited to participate in many prestigious awards and group exhibitions. Her work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Parliament House Collection Canberra, Macquarie Group Collection, Artbank, Flinders University Art Collection, the Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation and the South Australia Museum among others. She has been commissioned to create signature works of art for public buildings in Adelaide including the Commonwealth Law Courts and the South Australian Department of Health.

 

In March/April 2014 she will be artist-in-residence, as well as exhibiting works from the series, having-been-there at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia USA. A solo exhibition with works from having-been-there and the Attesting series is also being held at Harvey Art Projects, Ketchum, Idaho.

 

 

 

 

Education

 

2004                               Bachelor of Visual Arts - Honours – Photography

                                       University of South Australia

 

2001                               Bachelor of Visual Arts

                                       University of South Australia

 

1994                               Advanced Diploma in Applied and Visual Arts

                                       North Adelaide School of Art

 

1989                               Diploma in Applied and Visual Arts

                                       North Adelaide School of Art

 

Employment

 

2017                               Artistic Director - TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art

                                       Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2016-2017                      Curator Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art

                                       Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2013–2016                      Artistic Director - TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art

                                       Art Gallery of South Australia

  

2011 – 2013                    Associate Curator – Australian Paintings, Sculpture and Indigenous Art

                                        Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2008 – 2011                    Assistant Curator – Australian Paintings, Sculpture and Indigenous Art

                                        Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2006 – 2008                    Lecturer - Photography and Indigenous Arts, Cultures and Design

                                        University of South Australia

 

1996 – 2006                    Lecturer - Photography

                                        Tauondi, Aboriginal Community College 

 

2004 – 2010                    Panel Member, Selection Committee

                                        Art in Public Places, Arts South Australia

 

2007 – 2010                    National Indigenous Arts Reference Group

                                        Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, Australia Council

 

2009 – 2012                    Board Member

                                       Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

 

Curated Exhibitions

 

2013                               HEARTLAND curated with Lisa Slade

                                        Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2010                               Desert Country

                                        Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

                                        touring nationally 2011 – 2013

 

2007                               Indigenous Responses to Colonialism – Another Story,

                                        Curated with Maggie Fletcher and Nerina Dunt.

                                        Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre

 

Selected Exhibitions

 

2017                              Resolution: new Indigenous photomedia, National Gallery of Australia, Visions national tour

 

2016 - 2017                  Troubled Waters, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, Samstag Art Museum, Adelaide

 

2016                             Black White & Restive, Newcastle Region Art Gallery

 

2016                              33rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

 

2016                              Re-Visioning Histories, Bundoora Homestead, Victoria

 

2015                              Colour my world: hand coloured Australian photography, National Gallery of Australia

 

2015                              Ghostly nature, Adelaide Town Hall

 

2015                              Wall Power, Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney

 

2014                              Same River Twice, Australian Experimental Art Foundation/Murray Bridge Regional Gallery     

                        

2014                              31st National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

 

2014                              William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne

 

2014                              Having-been-there, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia USA

 

2014                              Having-been-there and Attesting, selected works, Harvey Art Projects, Sun Valley, Idaho USA

           

2013                               Australian Landscape, present in the now, Gallery Michael Reid, Berlin

                                       Highlights from Australian Landscape, present in the now, Australian Embassy Foyer, Berlin

 

2013                               Mulyawongk, Rock well & Budgee Creek, Friends of Shepparton Art Museum Commission

 

2013                               Making change, College of Fine Art Galleries,

                                       University of New South Wales & Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney

 

2013                               30th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2013                               UnDisclosed National Indigenous Art Triennial,

                                       National Tour - Samstag Art Museum, Adelaide, Cairns Regional Gallery

 

2013                               Australian Landscape,  curated by National Gallery of Australia, The Royal Academy of Arts, London

 

2012                               Build Me A City, Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide

 

2012                               Making Change, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

 

2012                               UnDisclosed – 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial

                                       National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

2012                               29th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2012                               Melbourne Art Fair

                                       Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne

 

2011                               having-been-there  Nici Cumpston

                                       Gallerysmith, Melbourne, Victoria

 

2010                               Stormy Weather – Contemporary Landscape Photography

                                       National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

2010                               In the Balance – Art for a Changing World

                                       Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

 

2010                               The Challenged Landscape

                                       University of Technology, Sydney

 

2010                               The Alice Prize

                                       Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory

 

2009                               Making Tracks, Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, South Australia

 

2009                               Western Australian Indigenous Art Award, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

 

2009                               26th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2009                               Attesting - Nici Cumpston

                                       Gallerysmith, Melbourne, Victoria

 

2008                               Shards with Judy Watson, Yhonnie Scarce & Nici Cumpston

                                        SA School of Art Gallery, University of South Australia

 

2008                               25th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2008                               The Haunted and the Bad

                                       Linden Gallery of Contemporary Art, St Kilda

 

2008                               Redlands Westpac Art Prize 2008

                                       Mosman Art Gallery, NSW

 

2007                               Power and beauty, Indigenous Art Now

                                       Heide Museum of Modern Art

 

2007                               24th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2007                               Hobart City Art Prize

                                       Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

 

2007                               Scotch College Fine Art Exhibition curated by Paul Greenaway Scotch College, Adelaide

 

2007                               River Murray Art Prize, ‘The Culture of the River Murray’

                                       People’s Choice Award, Waikerie Institute

 

2006                               Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Artist Award

                                       Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

 

2006- 2008                     The Murray Cod: much more than just the biggest fish in the River

                                       National Tour NETS Victoria, Melbourne Museum

 

2006                               Stories: Country Spirit Knowledge &Politics

                                       Lake MacQuarie City Art Gallery

 

2006                               Emerging Talent

                                       Shoalhaven City Arts Centre

 

2004 – 2005                    Holy Holy Holy

                                       Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide Festival of Arts 2004

                                       National Tour 2004 – 2005

 

2004                               21st National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2003                               20th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin National Tour 2004

 

2002                               Reflections

                                       Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, South Australia 

 

2002                               Nakkondi / Look – Indigenous Australians

                                       The Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, USA

 

2002                               Indigenous Australians: 1873 – 2001

                                       Nicole Cumpston, Andrew Dunbar, Stephanie Flack, Mellissa McCord, John Ogden, J.W. Lindt The Embassy of Australia, Washington                                                      D.C., USA

 

2001                               18th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                      Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

2000                               Nakkondi/Look - Indigenous Australians 1999-2000 Collaboration with Andrew Dunbar

                                       State Library of South Australia, 2000 Adelaide

                                       8th Pacific Festival of the Arts Bernnheim Library - Noumea, New Caledonia

 

2000                               17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                       Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

 

1998                               Three Views of Kaurna Territory Now

                                       Artspace - Adelaide Festival Centre

 

Artist in Residence

 

2014                               Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Artist Residency

                                       University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, Australia Council

 

2011                               Fowlers Gap Artist Residency - Fowlers Gap Research Station, New South Wales

                                       College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales

 

2005                               Bundanon – Emerging Artists Residency, Shoalhaven Bay, NSW

 

2002                               Artist-In-Residence

                                       Wilderness School, Adelaide

 

Commissions

 

2013                               Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton, Victoria

 

2007                               Department of Health, Citi Centre Foyer, Government of South Australia

 

2005                               Commonwealth Law Courts Foyer, Adelaide

 

2002                               Weaving The Murray,

                                      Centenary of Federation collaborative weaving project Kay Lawrence, Rhonda Agius, Chrissie Houston, Karen

                                      Russell, Kirsty Darlaston, Sandy Elverd, Nici Cumpston. Art Gallery of South Australia, Regional Tour - Country Arts SA

 

1999                               Black Diamond Public Art Commission

                                      Tauondi College Art Department staff, students and Trevor Wren

 

Grants/Awards

 

2014                              Work on Paper Award, 31st National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery N.T.

 

2007                               River Murray Art Prize - The Culture of the River Murray

                                       People’s Choice Award

 

2002                               Kate Breakey Returning Artist Residency

                                       Helpmann Academy - Menteeship Allowance

 

2001                               Tour of Nakkondi/Look to USA collaboration with Andrew Dunbar

                                       ArtsSA Government of South Australia 

 

Artist Talks/Lectures/Workshops/Conference

 

2003 – current                 Guest lecturer Flinders University, Indigenous Art

                                        Contemporary Indigenous Photographers for Dr. Christine Nicholls

 

2008 – current                 Guest Lecturer University of South Australia

                                        Indigenous Art Culture and Design – Artist talk

 

2005 – current                  Masters in Art History, Curatorial and Museum Studies

                                        Art Gallery of SA and the University of Adelaide

  

2008                               The C Word - Collaboration, NETS Symposium

                                        Panel presentation, National Gallery of Victoria

 

2007                               Radio National – Julie Copeland - Exhibit A

                                        Guest artist with Julie Blyfield,  Broadcast 18 November

 

2007                               Colonialism: Persistance and Resistance in Urban

                                        Indigenous Art forum as part of the exhibition Another Story - Indigenous Responses to Colonialism, chaired by Dr. Christine Nicholls with                                               Dr. Irene Watson, Gordon Hookey, Jared Thomas, Yhonnie Scarce, Nerina Dunt and Nici Cumpston Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre

 

2004                               Selling Yarns Conference, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

                                        A story is like a river: Weaving the Murray, Kay Lawrence & Nici Cumpston

 

2003-2006                       Facilitated hand colouring workshops at the SA School of Art

                                        Experimental Photography, University of South Australia

 

Selected Reviews

 

2012                               Surveying the landscape at the 2nd, National Indigenous Art Triennial

                                       The Australian Review Nicholas Rothwell May 5 – 6, pg8

 

2010                               Adelaide’s contemporary art initiative, Australian Art       

                                       Review, 1 November, Stephanie Radok

 

2009                               Attesting – Nici Cumpston

                                       Beyond the apocalypse by Ross Moore

                                       The Age, Melbourne Friday 6/2/09, page 15

 

2007                               Another Story: Indigenous Responses to Colonialism

                                       A People’s Story by Adam Dutkiewicz

                                       Independent Weekly, Adelaide Saturday 28/4/07, page 31

 

2007                               Another Story: Indigenous Responses to Colonialism

                                       Response and Reconciliation by Christine Nicholls

                                       Asian Art News, Volume 17 Number 4 Hong Kong ISSN 1023-5884 pp74-81

 

2006                               Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award

                                       Accolade for non-traditional trend by Louise Martin-Chew

                                       The Australian, April 13, 2006

 

2004                               Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award – Celebrating 20 years

                                       Reason to celebrate by Christine Nicholls

                                       The Advertiser, Arts Monday, September 13th, 2004 page 76

 

2004                               Holy Holy Holy at the Flinders University City Gallery in Adelaide

                                       By Nick Waterlow

                                       Art Monthly Australia June 2004 Number 170, page 24

 

2004                               Holy Holy Holy

                                       Artlink, Volume 24 No 2, page 75 by Stephanie Radok

 

2004                               Eclectic Land

                                       Eclectic Land by Stephanie Radok

                                       The Adelaide Review, April 2004 pg 28

 

2003                               Reflections

                                       Red gums colour a river of memories by Louise Nunn

                                        The Advertiser, Arts Tuesday April 8th pg 44

 

2002                               Weaving the Murray              

                                       Enchanting stream of ideas by Noris Ioannou

                                       The Advertiser, Arts Monday January 21st pg 77

 

Major Publications, Curator – Books

 

2013                               HEARTLAND Nici Cumpston and Lisa Slade

                                      Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2010                               Desert Country 

                                      Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Nici Cumpston with Barry Patton

 

Publications, Curatorial – Essays - Selected

 

2012                               Breaking new ground catalogue essay for Ninuku Arts exhibition Manta Irititjangku                     

                                      ngura Kuttjupalakutu Ancient Land New Territory in New York May 2012, Harvey Art

                                      Projects, Sun Valley, Idaho, USA

 

2012                               Blackfella Road, Lorraine Connelly-Northey with Fulvia Mantelli catalogue essay for

                                      Deadly: in –between heaven and hell, 2012 Adelaide Festival of Arts at Tandanya National

                                      Aboriginal Cultural Institute

 

2009                               12th Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art - Parallel Collisions Jonathan Jones and Richard

                                       Bell, Art Gallery of South Australia

 

2010                               Artlink Blak on Blak, Beaver Lennon: painting country vol 30 no1

 

2009                               Menagerie, Niningka Lewis Object Gallery, Nici Cumpston

 

2008                               Beyond the Black Stump Histories of Outback Australia - A family story

                                      Edited by Alan Mayne, Wakefield Press 2008

 

2001                               Kaltja Now - Indigenous Arts Australia

                                      Tandanya - National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Wakefield Press, Adelaide   

 

Bibliography, Artist – Selected

 

2012                               Presences in the land by Una Rey, Artlink, Indignation Vol 32 No 2

 

2012                               UnDisclosed – National Indigenous Art Triennial Carly Lane

                                      National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

2011                               having-been-there Gallerysmith, Melbourne, Una Rey

 

2010                               Stormy Weather – Contemporary Landscape Photography

                                      National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Isobel Crombie

 

2010                               In the Balance: Art for a Changing World

                                      Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Keith Munro

 

2010                               The Challenged Landscape, Tania Leimbach

                                      University of Technology,  Sydney 

 

2009                               Making Tracks, Fulvia Mantelli

                                      Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

 

2009                               Western Australia Indigenous Art Award

                                      Art Gallery of Western Australia, Clotilde Bulleen, Judith Ryan, Keith Munro

 

2008                               Shards, South Australian School of Art Gallery, Mary Knights & Brenda Croft

 

2007                               Power & beauty - Indigenous art now

                                      Heide Museum of Modern Art, Judith Ryan and Zara Stanhope

 

2006                               Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award

                                      Queensland Art Gallery, Julie Ewington

 

2004                               Holy Holy Holy, Flinders University Art Museum

 

2003                               Telstra presents the 20th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                      Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

 

2002                               Weaving The Murray, Prospect Gallery & Centenary of Federation

 

2001                               Telstra presents the 18th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award

                                      Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

 

Collections

                            National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

 

                            National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

                            Queensland Art Gallery – Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

 

                            Parliament House Collection, Canberra

 

                            Kluge - Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA

 

                            Macquarie Bank Collection, Sydney

 

                            Artbank, Sydney

 

                            Mildura Art Centre, Mildura, Victoria

 

                            Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide

 

                            Gilbert + Tobin Collection of Indigenous Australian Art - Sydney

 

                            University of Technology, Sydney

               

                            Pat Corrigan Collection, Sydney

 

                            Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation

 

                            South Australian Museum

         

                            Flinders University Art Museum

               

                            The Adelaide Club 

 

                            Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs –  Adelaide

                           

                            Mortlock Collection-State Library of South Australia

 

                            Commonwealth Law Courts – Adelaide