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Contained Memories or Catalysts?: Some Aboriginal Memorials in Australia 

Catherine De Lorenzo and Vivien Chow


Most of the many war memorials in the Australian public domain commemorate wars that were fought offshore. Conversely, memorials dealing with the fractious and sometimes violent interactions between Aboriginal and settler Australians since colonisation are rarely evident. This article examines selected examples of recent public art dealing with Aboriginal-settler issues. Beginning with a study of the Myall Creek Memorial (2000) on a remote site in the northern tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, the authors then briefly consider more recent public art projects by indigenous artists that expand the symbolic repertoire of massacre memorials. Examined in terms of their use of material culture and symbolism, the authors also question the degree to which specific art works function as contained memories or as catalysts for cultural change within the rural and urban fabrics.