Just Not Australian : Curated by Artspace

Just Not Australian presents a broad exploration of race, place and belonging. Showcasing the sensibilities of larrikinism, satire and resistance, the exhibition engages with the moral and ethical undertones of the increasingly weaponised retort 'un-Australian'.

Watt Space Gallery
23 Sept - 01 Oct

Presenting work by 19 Australian artists at the forefront of national debate and practice, "Just Not Australian" deals broadly with contemporary Australian nationhood.


  • Standard FREE
  • Launch Saturday 23 Sept 4:00pm - 6:00pm
    Exhibition open 23 - 24 Sept 11:00am - 5:00pm
    Exhibition open 27 Sept - 01 Oct 11:00am - 5:00pm
    Symposium Sunday 24 Sept 2:00pm - 4:00pm
    Screening Sunday 24 Sept 4:30pm
    Symposium Thursday 28 Sept 5:00pm - 6:00pm
  • Venue

    Watt Space Gallery View map
Just Not Australian brings together 19 artists across generations and diverse cultural backgrounds to deal broadly with the origins and implications of contemporary Australian nationhood. With works ranging from the late 1990s right through to newly commissioned pieces, they are united by their desire to take Australia’s ‘official’ history to task, making space for people and events that have, often wilfully, been sidelined or omitted.

The exhibition engages with the moral and ethical undertones of the loaded reply ‘un-Australian’ – a term now embedded in our national vocabulary that continues to be wheeled out for certain political agendas and to propagate nationalistic fantasies of what it means to be Australian.

Predicated on an us-versus-them dichotomy, at its core the term is intended to exclude; at stake is a sense of belonging. Yet far from a simple equation, a consideration of what’s not Australian ultimately leads to questions of what is, and it is here that the artists in Just Not Australian weigh in. Consciously enlisting tactics of larrikinism, satire and resistance, they present a multifarious nation divided across numerous issues, from immigration and border protection to land rights and Indigenous sovereignty, bigotry and xenophobia to resource exploitation and climate change. And as its title suggests, Just Not Australian also acknowledges that these matters do not just affect Australia but are indeed being addressed the world over.

Just Not Australian's national tour began in 2020, the year that marked 250 years since Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia, and a timely moment to interrogate Australia’s colonial past. Given our recent history of national and international border closures, calls for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and rumours of another republic referendum, the complexities of presenting and representing national identity remain as relevant as ever. 

Gallery opening hours:  Wednesday – Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm or by appointment 49215255

Saturday 23 September 4:00pm – 6:00pm 

Sunday 24 September 2:00pm – 4:00pm | ‘Colonial and colonised’ are we in the post colonial? Tropes and tragedies 
Thursday 28 September 5:00pm – 6:00pm  | ‘Girt by Sea’ artists and historians discuss politics ahead of the referendum

Sunday 24 September 4:30pm
To register, click here.

Just Not Australian contains strong language, images and themes that some visitors may find challenging. The content is intended to reflect the everyday, lived experiences of Australians represented in the exhibition.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are advised that some works contain images of deceased persons.

Artists: Abdul Abdullah, Hoda Afshar, Tony Albert, Cigdem Aydemir, Liam Benson, Yuriyal Eric Bridgeman, Jon Campbell, Karla Dickens, Fiona Foley, Gordon Hookey, Richard Lewer, Archie Moore, Vincent Namatjira, Nell, Raquel Ormella, Ryan Presley, Joan Ross, Soda Jerk, Tony Schwensen


Just Not Australian was curated by Artspace and developed in partnership with Sydney Festival and Museums & Galleries of NSW. The exhibition is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
Presented at Watt Space Gallery by the University Galleries for New Annual.

(Foreground) Tony Schwensen, Border Protection Assistance Proposed Monument for the Torres Strait (Am I ever going to see your face again?), 2002, in Just Not Australian, curated by Artspace. Exhibition view at the Museum of Sydney, 2023. Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney. Photo © Anna Kucera for Museums of History NSW.