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Murri people

Brewarrina, New South Wales, Australia born 1945

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into hand of traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory 1975 Place made: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, direct positive colour photograph
Primary Insc: No inscriptions

Dimensions: printed image 76.2 h x 50.8 w cm sheet 76.2 h x 50.8 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1994
Accession No: NGA 94.1403


  • Mervyn Bishop was born in Brewarrina, New South Wales, in 1945. Bishop's position as photographer for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs placed him in a unique position to document Aboriginal life and political activism Australia-wide. He was present in 1975 when Prime Minister Gough Whitlam handed back, with a symbolic pouring of sand into Vincent Lingiari's hand, the 2,500 sq km Wave Hill lease. Lingiari accepted it on behalf of the Gurindji people.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010

  • This iconic image captures the historic moment on 16 August 1975 when traditional landowner and elder Vincent Lingiari accepted the crown lease to his ancestral lands on behalf of the Gurindji community from the then Prime Minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam. This historic act was forged through the symbolic pouring of a handful of soil, with the words:

    Vincent Lingiari I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever.[1]

    This simple act, set on parched desert sands against a brilliant blue sky at Daguragu (Wattie Creek), has come to symbolise the government’s recognition of Aboriginal land rights, and its documentation was cleverly constructed by Bishop. The formalities had already taken place in a nearby shed. However, sensing the inadequacies this offered, Bishop requested that Lingiari and Whitlam repeat the hand-back outside, providing a far more evocative backdrop to this significant event. In 1966 the Gurindji had walked off Lord Vestey’s Wave Hill cattle station to protest against poor wages and living conditions. Now a famous part of Australian history, this strike also sought the return of the Gurindji’s ancestral lands, and this was the first such case recognised by Australian law.

    Bishop’s vision to photograph subjects from an Indigenous perspective heralded a significant shift in documentary photography in Australia and paved the way for future generations of Indigenous photographers—such as Michael Riley, Brenda L Croft and Ricky Maynard—to continue his groundbreaking work in taking control of the lens.

    Cara Pinchbek

    [1] Hon W Snowdon, ‘First speech as the member for Lingiari’, Speeches, The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, viewed 2010,

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

  • 比绍普·梅维 (BISHOP, Mervyn)
    《高夫·惠特拉姆总理将土洒入北领地传统土地所有人维森特·林贾里的手中》(Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into hand of traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory)
    76.20(高) x 50.80(宽)厘米(印刷版图形)
    76.20(高) x 50.80(宽)厘米(框)

    这一标志性画面捕捉了1975年8月16日这一历史性时刻,传统土地拥有者文森特·林嘉瑞(Vincent Lingiari)长老代表古林基(Gurindji)部落,从时任澳大利亚总理高夫·惠特拉姆(Gough Whitlam)手中接过祖传土地的官契。象征性的一把土壤交接和讲话构筑了这一历史性行为:


    简单的交接仪式是在达古拉古(Daguragu)(亦称Wattie小溪)阳光灿烂的炙热沙漠地举行的,已经成为澳大利亚政府承认原住民土地权利的象征,比绍普聪明地记录了这一历史时刻。正式手续已经在附近的小棚里完成。然而,比绍普感觉到了其中的不足,他请求林嘉瑞和惠特拉姆在户外重新来一次归还仪式,为这次重大事件提供更具唤醒力的背景。1966年,古林基人离开韦斯特勋爵(Lord Vestey)的波丘园(Wave Hill)牛养殖场,抗议低收入和生活条件。现已成为澳大利亚历史的辉煌一页,这次罢工还提出要归还古林基人的祖传土地,而且这也开创了类似请求得到澳大利亚法律承认的先例。

    比绍普从土著人视角拍摄主题的愿景预示着澳大利亚纪实摄影重大转变的来临,为后来土著人摄影师铺平了道路——比如像迈克·里雷(Michael Riley)、布兰达·L·克罗夫特(Brenda L Croft)和里基·梅纳德(Ricky Maynard)——通过镜头控制继续拍摄具有开拓性的作品。

    Cara Pinchbek

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010