Fiona Foley Provocateur by Louise Martin-Chew
Dr Fiona Foley is an Aboriginal artist, Badtjala woman and provocateur, part of a highly influential generation of urban Indigenous artists. Over a career now spanning thirty years she has consistently asked questions about hidden histories, the Frontier Wars waged against Aboriginal peoples, and brought the massacres and dispossession into galleries, public spaces and to a broader, societywide debate. In recent years her exploration of the familial threads that join her Aboriginal heritage to the family of white missionaries who came to K'gari/Fraser Island in 1897 emerges as a tour de force.
Foley has had exhibitions all over the world. Retrospective exhibitions include Fiona Foley: Veiled Paradise at QUT Art Museum in 2021, Who are these strangers and where are they going? in Ballarat and Sydney in 2019-2020, and Fiona Foley: Forbidden at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane in 2009. Her work is in every major institutional collection in Australia, many private collections, and occupies public spaces all over Australia, including in the State Library of Queensland.
At the heart of this book is friendship. It details Foley's meeting with art writer Louise Martin-Chew, the progression of their collegiate relationship, and crucial developments in Foley's art life until her most recent segue into academia. This book was shaped as a biography given the relevance of Foley's life to the work that she makes, and her emotional and historical investment in the disenfranchisement of her Badtjala people-as for all Aboriginal people-as subject matter for her art.