between language and country II

Robert Andrew

Robert Andrew.
As Above, So Below
QUT Art Museum
23 June – 13 October

Artist Statement

Yawuru descendent, Robert Andrew’s work combines programmable machinery with earth pigments, ochres, rocks, and soil to mine historical and cultural events buried by the dominant paradigms of western culture. ‘between language and country II’ (2024) is constantly developing and translating—enunciating the complex connections between language and Country in physical materials that persistently build and evaporate. The land both informs and records lived experiences. Water pools, evaporates, and streams over land—its gradual lapping and flow captured in the white mineral lines at its shifting boundaries. ‘between language and country II’ invites you to stop, listen, and watch, as saltwater slowly drips from above—building and dismantling a written word in Yawuru Ngang-na, the artist’s ancestral tongue.

‘Buru—everything around you that you can see from the earth to the sky and also time’

Yawuru language is an oral and conceptual language that requires expansive discourse and emphasis on experiences, philosophies, ideas, abstractions, and connections. To truly understand a conceptual language is to know the land and experience its evolving form—to speak it brings Country into the vocal cords and into the bodies of the people—its resonance is held within the land it’s born from.

About the artists

Robert Andrew is a descendant of the Yawuru people. Yawuru Country is the lands and waters in and around Rubibi (the town of Broome) in the Kimberley region, Western Australia. Born in 1965 in Perth, Australia, Andrew now lives and works in Meanjin (Brisbane). His recent solo exhibitions include ‘Held within a word’ at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA, Perth, 2023), and ‘Within an utterance’ at Museum of Old and New Art (MONA, Hobart, 2022). Andrew’s work has been presented in major group exhibitions in Australia and Internationally including: ‘23rd Biennale of Sydney rīvus’, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2022; ‘4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony’, National Gallery of Australia’s (NGA), 2022; ‘TarraWarra Biennial: Slow Moving Waters’, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, 2021; Overlapping Magisteria: The 2020 Macfarlane Commissions, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, 2020; ‘Jinan Biennale’, Jinan, China 2020; ‘Yokohama Triennale’, Japan, 2020; ‘The National: New Australian Art’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2019; and ‘Colony: Frontier Wars’, National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), 2018. His work is held in the collections of NGV, NGA, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Moreton Bay, Araluen Art Centre, and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. In 2023 he was the recipient of Moreton Bay Regional Galleries’ ‘15 Artists’ acquisitive art prize. Andrew has a Doctor of Visual Arts (2019) and has completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Griffith University, Brisbane.

Robert Andrew is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Credits: With thanks to Mabu Yawuru Ngan-ga for gifting Yawuru Language to this artwork. Artwork Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.


ISEA2024 acknowledges the Turrbal and Yugara as the First Nations owners of the lands where the symposium will be held. We pay our respects to their elders, lores, customs and creation spirits. We also acknowledge and pay respects to all First Nations peoples across the continent and beyond Australian shores.