Installation view of Libby Harward ‘BLOODLETTING (water-ways) and SMOKE CLOAK’ 2021 in 'Strange Weather' at UniSC Art Gallery

Libby Harward.
Strange Weather
University of the Sunshine Coast Art Gallery

Artist Statement

Since time immemorial, the First Nations people of Australia have held cultural responsibilities to care for and sustain the waterways of this country. Since colonisation, water systems have been over-extracted, commodified and depleted. As a Quandamooka woman, Harward sees the ancient waterways and river systems as being in grief. For her people “water is our lifeblood and we need to protect and look after it, as it looks after us.”

‘BLOODLETTNG (water-ways)’ is a self-portrait that addresses water sovereignty for Aboriginal people. Split over three channels and placed on the ground, i the video Harward appears lying in a trench surrounded by PVC plumbing and hose pipes. A domestic garden sprinkler running water is on her torso and seemingly connected through her via her mouth. The video was projected onto a bed of mangrove and tea tree swamp mud mixed with the artist’s blood and rerecorded, a statement of the artist’s deep connection to culture, Country, and its waterways.

About the artists

A descendant of the Ngugi people of Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) in the Quandamooka, Libby Harward creates artworks that break through the colonial overlay to connect with the cultural landscape, which always was and always will be here. Harward’s political practice, in a range of genres, continues this decolonising process.

Harward describes her practice as a process of simultaneously listening, calling out to, knowing and understanding Country. Harward’s art practice spans over twenty years, initially as a community, street and graffiti artist. During the past seven years, her focus has been on developing a conceptual arts practice, resulting in regular invitations to exhibit works both nationally and internationally.

Major recent works include ALREADY OCCUPIED series on Yugambeh Country (Gold Coast), and DABIL BUNG (Broken Water) with First Nations along the Bidgee and Barka (Murray-Darling River system). These works engage a continual process of re-calling, re-hearing, re-mapping, and re-contextualising, to de-colonise, cultural landscapes, utilising low and high-tech media with elements of sound, image, installation and performance, to engage with politically-charged ideas of national and international significance.

Credits: Libby Harward


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.