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In 1847, ten black men were surveilled travelling down Sydney Road. Where did they come from? Where were they going? The Assistant Protector for Aborigines investigated and, to his astonishment, found the men were South Sea Islanders ‘imported’ by Benjamin Boyd.

'Sydney Road Blaks' considers settler surveillance, the racial hierarchy between white settlers, Aboriginal peoples and Pacific Islanders, and the underlying colonial networks of capitalism and trade that haunt Sydney Road, both before 1847, and after.

This exhibition features works by Aboriginal, South Sea and Pacific Islander artists including Paola Balla, Daniel Boyd, Destiny Deacon, Kim Kruger, Savanna Kruger, Mandy Nicholson, Sofii Belling-Harding and Stacie Piper. Curated by Kim Kruger, Savanna Kruger and Lisa Hilli.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Destiny Deacon. Look out!, 2009. From the series Gazette. Inkjet print from digital image on archival paper. 60 x 80 cm. Edition of 5. Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney


Suitable for

This exhibition features video and sound content. Due to the varied sensory experience on display, this exhibition may be a difficult environment for visitors who experience sensory overload.


Counihan Gallery
Phone: 03 9389 8622

Further information

For exhibition updates you can follow the Counihan Gallery Instagram page. You can also go to the Counihan Gallery Facebook page.

This exhibition is in the New Gallery. 

For more information, you can download the Roomsheet: Sydney Road Blaks (Doc 71Kb). Roomsheets are exhibition documents that include information such as exhibition statements, artist websites, artwork details and artwork prices.

Sydney Road Blaks is inspired by the research of Aboriginal and South Sea Islander Elder Patricia Corowa and Historian Tracey Banivanua Mar. Listen to Tracey talk about Indigenous and colonial histories related to the exhibition in an interview with Marita Dyson and Jess Lilley on RRR.