Meet BJ Murphy

Ahead of BJ Murphy’s upcoming exhibition Mimburi Ninyangurra we caught up for a quick chat about how the exhibition has evolved since it was postponed last year. The exhibition will run from Saturday 23 April – July 2, 2022.

Your upcoming exhibition Mimburi Ninyangurra was originally part of Horizon Festival 2021, but, as we know, was unfortunately postponed. Can you tell us about the exhibition, how it differs from last time (understanding the main works have evolved since then), and what people can expect from it?
My art is an expression of my continued growth and connection as a Jinibara culture man. Since the original exhibition, that was postponed, I have had huge growth as an artist and a culture man. This has come from spending more time with my ancestral Jinibara country, with my Quandamooka wife and her ancestral country, our families and kin, and navigating our culture within this contemporary world. 

This time has been guided by walking country and listening to and singing up country and listening to the language song and knowledge left to me by my ancestor Gaiarbau (Willie McKenzie)  — an activist of his own time, and a culture man who resisted assimilation and navigated the settler colonial world to ensure the continuation of Jinibara Knowledges. 

This exhibition is my Mimburi Ninyangurra — source of continual dreaming. It is presented with deep gratitude to Gaiarbau and the many others whose footsteps have fought for and tread this path before me. I am hoping this exhibition reflects exactly that. In a nutshell, this exhibition is my dreaming — it’s generous, it’s raw, it’s deep, it’s personal, and it’s about ongoing connection and sharing.  

First nations elder

Image: pictured is BJ’s ancestor, Gaiarbau (Willie McKenzie)

Country plays an important role in your work from a material and inspiration point of view. What are your main considerations when working on/with country?
Listening in the footstep of my ancestors and speaking from a place of honour for what has been handed down. I speak language to country and I invite my family, particularly my children, to share time with me on country as I reconnect with what was denied to me as a child. 


Image: Ochre palette 

Is there a particular place that has the most cultural significance to you, or brings you the most inspiration?
At the moment it’s Buruja (Mt Archer). It’s an extremely significant place from my Dungidau ancestry.

What advice do you have for fellow artists looking to work on/with country?
We need to all make sure we are working  “with” country and contributing to its healing. 

What’s next for you BJ?
We will leave that up to the ancestors. 

first nations man

Image: BJ Murphy working in his studio.

To see more of BJ’s work, head over to his Instagram or check out his website.