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3 October 2023

Megan Cope In Conversation

3 October 2023

In the Utzon Room

Talks & Ideas

Free event, registrations essential

Join artist Megan Cope, creator of the monumental public artwork, Whispers, along with guests Matt Poll, Dakota Dixon and Daniel Browning as they discuss ecology, collectivity, First Nations culture and the role of artists.

A panel discussion with Quandamooka Artist Megan Cope

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sydney Opera House, Quandamooka artist Megan Cope has created Whispers, a melding of First Nations history and environmental consciousness. Over the past year, Cope has engaged over 3000 volunteers, in over 100 workshops to create a series of sculptures that reimagine the architectural framework of the Opera House itself, evoking the ancestral midden sites that were used on this site for Aboriginal celebrations and gatherings for thousands of years.

Join Megan, with respected curator and writer Matt Poll (Head of Indigenous Programs, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney), Dakota Dixon (cultural producer) and Daniel Browning (Indigenous Radio Editor, ABC) as they unpack the world of artist-activists, discussing ecology, collectivity and First Nations culture. The talk will be moderated by Sydney Opera House’s Curator, Contemporary Art, Micheal Do. 

Whispers continues until 31 October 2023

Presented by Sydney Opera House

NSW Government

This program is proudly supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW Blockbusters Funding initiative

Meet the panel

Megan Cope

Megan Cope is a Quandamooka Artist. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work, paintings and public art investigate issues relating to colonial histories, the environment and mapping practices.

In 2022 her work was featured in We, On The Rising Wave, Busan Biennale, South Korea, Reclaim the Earth, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France,  Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Contemporary Art, Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane as well as The NGV Triennial (2020), Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres at the Art Gallery of South Australia, The TarraWarra Biennial (2021): Slow Moving Waters, The National, Art Gallery of NSW (2017), and Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial (2017). In 2017-19 Cope was the Official Australian War Artist.

Her work is held in Australian and International collections. She is a member of Aboriginal art collective proppaNOW and is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Micheal Do

Micheal Do is a curator, programmer and writer working across Australia and New Zealand and Asia with a record of developing immersive exhibitions that bridge research practices into contemporary contexts. 

His recent curatorial projects include ‘Primavera: Young Australian Artists’ (2022) for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. Recently, his exhibition ‘Soft Core’, exploring soft and inflatable sculptures developed for Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney, recently concluded its tour of twelve regional and rural galleries throughout New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Micheal  curated ‘Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu’ (2017) and ‘The Invisible Hand’ (2019) for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and among other exhibitions curated ‘5X5: The Artist and The Patron’ (2018), a survey of 5 artist/collector relationships for Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest and ‘A Proxy for a Thousand Eyes’ (2020) for Sydney Opera House.

He was the recipient of The Freedman Foundation’s Travelling Scholarship for Curators, the recipient Museums and Galleries NSW Artist and Curator Residency Grant and the Gordon Darling Travelling Scholarship for Curators . His writing appears in publications including 4A Papers; Art Collector Australia; Art Monthly, Australasia; Art Review Asia, Artist Profile Magazine, S+S Magazine, VAULT Magazine, and 10 Magazine, along with artists’ catalogues.

Matt Poll

Matt Poll works as the Manager of Indigenous Programs at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Matts curatorial and publications work is centred on prioritising contemporary First Nations voice across collections and exhibitions development.

Matt has participated in international collections engagement projects in Helsinki, France, China and the United States. He is currently a member of the Reimagining the British Museum working group and in Australia has previously worked as the Artistic Director of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, as well as curatorial positions at the Macleay Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Wollongong City Gallery.

Dakota Dixon Campbell-Page

Dakota is a proud Dharawal – Dhunghatti – Yuin woman. She lives and works on Gadigal land, Sydney.

As a young designer and artist, I like to experiment with all styles and methods of creative making. I enjoy tradition styles of dot painting with acrylic paint and combining mixing media and manipulating the designs digitally. My artist style would be a mix between tradition Aboriginal stories as well as my own experience as a modern day Aboriginal woman, told and created in a contemporary way.

Since completing a diploma of design at TAFENSW in 2017, I have worked in the arts for the past five years. Working on public artworks with artists and designers, Alison Page & Brenda L. Croft. Graphic design works for companies such as Lendlease and Spirit Creative. Currently working as First Nations creative producer at Australian Design Centre and Art Gallery NSW as Programs Assistant.

Daniel Browning

Daniel Browning is an Aboriginal journalist, broadcaster, documentary maker, sound artist and writer. Currently, he is Editor Indigenous Radio with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) overseeing the long standing flagship programs Speaking Out and Awaye, the latter of which he produced and presented from 2005 until 2021. One of the ABC's handful of Indigenous executives, he has spent almost three decades working across the news and radio divisions of the national broadcaster. He also presents The Art Show on ABC RN, the specialist arts and journalism network and on podcast. He was executive producer of the investigative podcast Thin Black Line and more recently, the five-part series Song With No Boss, and established the much-loved language revival podcast Word Up.

A visual arts graduate, Daniel is also a widely-published freelance arts writer. He is a former and inaugural guest editor of 
Artlink Indigenous, an occasional series of the quarterly Australian contemporary arts journal and his critical essays on Indigenous art have been published by the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and Queensland Art Gallery/ Gallery of Modern Art as well as magazines including Art Collector, Art Monthly, Artlines, The Saturday Paper and Condé Nast Traveller. His anthology of collected writing, 'Close to the Subject' is published by the Indigenous-owned Magabala Books. He is the inaugural curator of Blak Box, a specially-designed sound pavilion commissioned by Utp to amplify the voices of First Nations storytellers, language custodians and artists working in spoken word, performance and music.

Daniel is a descendant of the Bundjalung people of far northern New South Wales on his father’s side and the Kullilli people of south-western Queensland through his mother.

Other information

15 - 26 Nov 2023 Experiences

Whispers: A Monumental Public Artwork by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope

During October, to mark the occasion of the Sydney Opera House’s 50th anniversary, Cope will install a series of monumental site specific sculptures that honour Tubowgule’s pre-settlement history while considering the environment’s fragility.

25 - 26 Nov 2023 First Nations

DanceRites 2023

Witness the powerful coming together of traditional customs and contemporary culture, with hundreds of First Nations dancers from around Australia and performers from around the world.

Join us on the forecourt, a First Nations meeting place for thousands of years, to share in this free festival of live dance, music and community.

Stream First Nations

Badu Gili - Sails Projection | Celebrating First Nations Culture

Badu Gili lights up the eastern Bennelong Sail with ancient First Nations stories in a spectacular projection. Curated by Rhoda Roberts, former Head of First Nations Programming, Badu Gili traces the ancient songlines of First Nations storytelling across Australia.

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