A member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, Jonathan Jones is an artist, curator and researcher. As an artist he works across a range of mediums, from printmaking and drawing to sculpture and film, to create site-specific installations and interventions that engage Aboriginal practices, relationships and knowledge. Jones’s work champions local knowledge systems, is grounded in research of the historical archive and builds on community aspirations. At the heart of his practice is the act of collaborating and many projects have seen him work with other artists and communities, including with Dr Uncle Stan Grant Senior. Jones has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and his work has been collected by state, national and international institutions. In 2016 Jonathan presented the 32nd Kaldor Public Art Project, ‘barrangal dyara: skin and bones’, at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and in 2018 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in the field of visual arts.
As a curator, Jones has worked at several institutions. He held the position of curator at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative (2000–02) and was curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2002–12). Jones has curated exhibitions throughout Australia, at the State Library of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia and Australian Museum, among others, and at regional galleries. Along with developing exhibitions and publishing exhibition catalogues, he champions education and programing, and has written education kits, directed films and conducted symposiums and conferences. Jones is dedicated to the development and celebration of south-east Aboriginal artists and culture. Along with Hetti Perkins, he founded South-East Market, the only regional market for south-east Aboriginal artists.
Jones completed his PhD in 2018. Titled ‘Murruwaygu: following in the footsteps of our ancestors’, his research charts four generations of south-east men’s art practices and considers the shared use of the line in south-east artworks. His ongoing research focuses on cultural practices of the south-east and he has published widely for both journals and exhibition publications, including ‘Half Light: portraits from black Australia’ (2008), ‘La Per: an Aboriginal seaside story’ (2010) and ‘Boomalli: 20 years on’ (2007) for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and ‘Lighting the fire and the return of the boomerang: cultural renaissance in the south-east’ (2014) for Artlink.
· Member, Indigenous Advisory Group, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
· Member, Indigenous Advisory Committee, Sydney Living Museums, Sydney
· Advisor, Michael Riley Foundation, Sydney
· Ambassador, Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship Program, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Chambers, E, Desmond, M & Jones, J 2008, Jonathan Jones Untitled (the Tyranny of Distance), Power Publications at the University of Illinois Press.
This beautiful exhibition catalogue presents Jonathan Jones's immersive SCAF commission, untitled (the tyranny of distance), within the context of his Indigenous traditions and 'modernist' use of fluorescent light.
Jones, J 2020, 'untitled (maraong manaóuwi)', untitled (maraong manaóuwi), Hyde Park Barracks.
This major site-specific installation, marking the reopening of the Hyde Park Barracks, looks at the similarly shaped symbols of the maraong manaóuwi (emu footprint) and the English broad arrow as a way of understanding history and cultural relations.
The emu footprint has long been inscribed by Aboriginal people as a design on sandstone outcrops and platforms, such as the engraving of the ‘emu in the sky’ constellation in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, in Sydney’s north. Conversely, the broad arrow is a symbol of imperial ownership and represents the convict labour force that was responsible for the expansion of Sydney and, in turn, the dispersal of Aboriginal peoples from their homelands.
untitled (maraong manaóuwi) comprises more than 2000 maraong manaóuwi/broad arrow designs created with red and white gravel sourced from Wiradjuri Country, covering the entire 2500 square metres of the Hyde Park Barracks courtyard. Visitors will be able to walk on top of the work, a process that intentionally results in the work’s slow destruction. This performative act questions memory, our individual roles in history, and the protection and preservation of cultural sites. The temporary project will undoubtedly leave a permanent mark on the cultural memory of Sydney.
Central to untitled (maraong manaóuwi) is a daily program of specially curated talks, demonstrations, workshops and performances that will activate the site and generate a living cultural memory. The program will include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal elders, academics, artists and thinkers.