Maddison Gibbs

Maddison Gibbs is a Barkindji woman and an artist from New South Wales. The journal is her artistic response to the Black Lives Matter movement that became a global force in 2020. Through a series of protest signs Maddison expressed her reflections on this important issue in 2020.  

“Aboriginal lives matter. You’ll never silence the voice of the voiceless.” 

We asked Maddison three questions about her experience of isolation, completing this journal and her hope for the future. These are her responses: 

Describe the experience of the period of isolation for you.

I had a lot of time to create and reflect in COVID. It was interesting to note at the beginning of COVID how compliant we all were, we fell into line overnight. I reflected a lot on the media and how the misinformation and misguided details were being used to shape and create new laws and regulations. I contemplated a lot about the treatment of Aboriginal people since 1770 and how since then they have been faced with similar treatment. Ostracised, segregated and punished/locked up if they weren't adhering to the rules. I think the pandemic has begun to dismantle colonial narratives and mistruths. Racism throughout history and to the current day is ever present and is a far more deadly virus than the pandemic. The isolation period has allowed me to explore and dissect human behaviour and hold a mirror up to society through my work.

What does your book represent and how did you approach the challenge?

The protest, The pandemic, The police. The book is a collection and documentation of 2020 focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement, Police/ governing bodies, protest and how that looked and took place in a "lockdown". I think the turning point was the Murder of George Floyd, Obviously, for both America and Australia this is not the first death of a black person at the hands of police. But this time it was all recorded, every moment of his murder from the beginning of the police call out until his last breath was crushed out of him, then thrown into a fake ambulance by Police (not medics). To the aftermath showing the insufficient, unsubstantial, inadequate investigation of the 'CRIMINAL" they had just killed on the streets. I took inspiration from the protests and from photographs taken at the BLM protests from America and Australia to demonstrate the people power and the sheer terror and devastation these people are experiencing at the hands of the police the "Protectors". As I was drawing these people and their words, I could feel their pain and vulnerabilities, the absolute fear and terror they are living in, scared for their families, children and friends because of the colour of their skin. The injustice they are facing. their children going to jail and not knowing if they will ever see them again. The drawing and colouring style of the book reflects protest culture and the urgent nature of the messages. Police brutality and Black deaths in custody is an emergency the real pandemic.

What do you hope will change in Australia as a result of the pandemic?

I think Australia has a long way to go for social justice and equality. I hope this pandemic has challenged people's perceptions and how they consume mainstream media and question the real agenda of the government. I think the BLM protest was a great success and demonstration of people power. The people on mass still outweigh the powers at the top. I hope that this guides reform movements that are closer to the community’s ideals. I hope there is justice for the families affected by Black deaths in custody and ACCOUNTABILITY is taken by the hands of the murderers, the police force and the Australian government. I hope that this statement is common knowledge "All lives can't matter until black, brown, rainbow lives matter."

Maddison Gibbs is a Barkindji woman who grew up in Dubbo, NSW. Maddison’s artworks are based on her culture, people and surroundings, they tell stories of past and present by using contemporary methods and ideologies. Maddison’s works include political statements and educational information regarding Aboriginal issues, a subject which she is extremely passionate about. Maddison uses different mediums for her works including drawing, ceramics, printmaking and animation.

View Maddison Gibbs' journal here:

Image: Maddison Gibbs, Design/Isolate journal (detail), 2020.