Discover more From Little Things Big Things Grow

Collections of photos, documents, artwork and everyday objects tell stories of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians who campaigned to improve the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  Objects of interest include:

A story almost nobody knowsAn imagined portrait of Anthony Martin Fernando.

How many people know of an Aboriginal protester who stood outside Australia House in London, in the 1920s? His nameAn imagined portrait of Anthony Martin Fernando by Raj Nagi. Copyright Raj Nagi. was Anthony Martin Fernando.  He wore a coat sewn over with toy skeletons and his message was ‘This is what the Australian government has done to my people’.

This is Fernando’s portrait painted by Raj Nagi.  The artist didn’t paint his full face because we have no photograph of Fernando.  When the artist heard of this lonely, courageous man, he empathised with Fernando’s struggle due to his own experiences with racism as a Sikh Australian. He painted this portrait and gave it to the Museum, so more people would know the story.


Look and you see it

Seats from the old Ray-Mond Theatre, Bowraville NSW. Photo Lannon Harley, National Museum of Australia.

If you went to the movies in the 1960s in many parts of Australia, where you sat would depend onwhether you were an Aboriginal person or not. If you were an Aboriginal person, you probably came in after the movie had started, were seated at the front, and on different seats from the other patrons. There were no signs saying ‘Whites only’ on the plush seats – but everybody knew the way things were. These different seats – the wooden and the plush are both from the old Ray-Mond Theatre in Bowraville NSW. They clearly illustrate the segregation in practise. But in 2000, Bowraville could heal this unhappy history. The old theatre was re-opened with a smoking ceremony by the local Gumbayngirr people.

Read or listen to other stories, or tell your own on the National Museum of Australia exhibition website. Discover more about the title of the exhibition, events and perspectives that describe the struggle to gain political and social equality for Indigenous Australians.