Open Cut

an exhibition by Jacky Green, Therese Ritchie and Seán Kerins

Northern Centre for Contemporary Art 5–28 August 2017

Through painting, portrait photography and a historic timeline graphic, artists Jacky Green (Borroloola) and Therese Ritchie (Darwin), together with anthropologist Seán Kerins (Canberra), give voice and political determination to members of Borroloola community impacted by the McArthur River Mine. (For the full show please download the catalogue and Developing the North timeline with references).

Aboriginal people have occupied and managed the southwest Gulf Country of the Northern Territory for tens of thousands of years. Today, they make up almost 90 per cent of the region’s population and hold property rights over vast areas of the Gulf Country. Just like their ancestors, they continue to maintain a significant reliance on the environment for their livelihoods and wellbeing. Yet, despite this they have little voice in how the region’s land, waters and natural resources are used, how they are valued, or how they will be managed in the future. 

This has resulted in the costs and benefits associated with large-scale development in the region being distributed unequally. While substantial benefits flow outside the region, it is the region’s Aboriginal people who bear the cost of development as they experience the contamination of their territories and food resources from mining activity.

After 150 years of white development it’s time for environmental justice in the southwest Gulf, for fair treatment and meaningful involvement of Aboriginal people with respect to development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies in their ancestral lands. The goal must be a fair distribution of the environmental benefits and costs.

Jacky Green is a Garawa man from the remote south-west Gulf Country in the Northern Territory (NT). He has spent a lifetime as a cultural authority caring for, measuring, dreaming about and raising his voice in support of his country. Seán Kerins has a background in applied anthropology and Indigenous policy. His research interests are community-based management of natural resources, common property rights, common property resource institutions, subsistence, political ecology, and community-based development.