A collection of unfinished ti-tree spears scarred with the names of Aboriginal children born long ago tells a little-known story of Tasmanian colonisation.
Trawlwoolway artist Julie Gough has scoured archival records for decades to identify 185 children taken to live with colonists before 1840.
This would have followed the killing of their families, she told AAP, with children who survived kept in servitude or taken to orphan asylums.
"By mapping that we can also map massacres, particularly in the 1820s and '30s we had that level of eradication and violence, and these children were often the only survivors," she said.
The practice paved the way for the state-sponsored removal of Aboriginal people from their families up until the 1970s, now known as the stolen generations, she said.
Gough, whose own ancestors were among those taken, has been unable to discover whether many of the children lived to be adults, and so she has left the spears rough and unfinished.
They are bound together by a burnt wooden chair, which she said holds the spears captive but also keeps them united.
The confronting installation is on show in Singapore as part of Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia, the largest exhibition of its kind to go on tour in Asia.
It features more than 150 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, the majority from the National Gallery of Australia, with significant pieces from the Wesfarmers corporate collection.
There are late 19th century drawings by William Barak, iconic works by Albert Namatjira and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, as well as more contemporary Tracey Moffatt videos.
Gough said she is honoured to be part of a show taking Indigenous stories to the world.
"Not only is it actually the most vibrant and engrossing and exhilarating and special art that is coming out of the continent of Australia, there is so much diversity and skill and deep ancestral knowledge that's clear in the making," she said.
Another prominent installation in the show is Tony Albert's "ASH on Me", a collection of ashtrays featuring simplified images of Aboriginal people.
The Girramay/Yidinji/Kuku-Yalanji artist collected the items from thrift shops as a child, regarding them with an innocent love because they depicted people who looked like him.
He told AAP it wasn't until he was a teenager that he realised the racism in play.
"I started to understand the more sinister undertones attached to these kinds of things ... what it actually means to butt out a cigarette on someone's face or someone's culture," he said.
The exhibition also examines the relationships between Australian Indigenous people and their Southeast Asian neighbours, according to NGA curator Tina Baum.
There are pieces referencing the pre-colonial trade in trepang, or sea cucumbers, between northern Australia and Indonesia's Makassar, as well as works from the 1970s central Australian batik movement which involved collaborations with Javanese artists.
"This positions us globally and shows the relations and engagements we have had for centuries with Southeast Asia," she said.
Baum has spent the past month supervising the installation with an eye to the cultural sensitivity of the artworks, with some pieces, for example, only able to be handled by men.
Her hope is that the touring show will leave a legacy - a global understanding of the richness and diversity of Australian First Nations art.
It comes at an important time of renewed hope for Australia to move forward in its relations with Indigenous people, according to Gough.
"There's a heavy leaden bleakness that is always going to overshadow our continent unless Aboriginal people are respected and held in high regard as the original peoples of this country," she said.
"We've got a lot of work to do for Aboriginal people to be in control of our own future."
Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia opened at the National Gallery Singapore on Friday and continues until September 25.
Australian Associated Press
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