Bonita Ely


Bonita Ely


Born 1946, Mildura. Lives and works in Sydney, Australia.







PhD, University of Western Sydney. 


Master of Art (Fine Arts), Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University.


Diploma of Fine Arts (Sculpture) Prahran College of Fine Arts, Melbourne.


Certificate of Art, Caulfield Institute of Technology, Melbourne



Selected Solo Exhibitions



Murray River Punch-The Soup, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne


Interior Decoration, Milani Gallery, Brisbane.


Three Rivers, photography, drawing, performance documentation. Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide. 


Murray River Punch, performance documentation (1980).  National Gallery of Victoria


The Murray’s Edge, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

The Murray’s Edge, COFA Exhibition Space, COFA, UNSW, Sydney.


The Murray’s Edge, Milani Gallery, Brisbane. 


Wildlife Documentary, Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane.


Wildlife Documentary, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. 


Outside Inside: fragments in place, Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA


Inside Mawson's Sleeping Bag: the Poetics of Heroism, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane & Stills Gallery, Sydney


Inside Mawson's Sleeping Bag: the Poetics of Heroism, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne


Juggernaut,  Asian Biennale of Contemporary Art, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Juggernaut, Customs House, Sydney 

Juggernaut, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane


Light House (Public commission), 2nd International Sculpture Symposium, Hue, Vietnam.


Artists In The House! Elizabeth Bay House Contemporary Art Installation Program, Elizabeth Bay House, Historic Houses Trust, Sydney.

Juggernaut (Presented as part of the Melbourne Festival),  Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. 


Solo exhibition, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.


“Sleeper’s Ties 111”,  Highways Gallery, 2 part installation, Los Angeles, U.S.A.

“Sleeper’s Ties 11” New Gallery, 2 part installation, Los Angeles, U.S.A.


“Sleepers/Ties 1" Urban intervention near Olympic Boulevard and 17th Street, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.


Histories, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

Histories, Annandale Galleries, Sydney


“We Live To Be Surprised”, Performance Space, Sydney

     1987 - 92

Bellas Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland


Phototropic, Performance Space, Sydney

Roslyn Oxley Gallery, Sydney


“Dogwoman Makes History”, First Draft, Sydney


The Murray River Project, Performance Space, Sydney


Exhibition, Praxis, Freemantle, WA

Performance, Jabiluka UO2, Praxis, Freemantle


Controlled Atmosphere, Artspace, Sydney


The Murray River Project, Adelaide Arts Centre


Mt Feathertop Project, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane


Mt Feathertop Project, Art Projects, Melbourne


At Home With The Locust People, West Street Gallery, Sydney


Student solo exhibition, Prahran College of Fine Arts, Melbourne



Selected Group Exhibitions




Toubled Waters, UNSW Galleries, Sydney

War: A Kids Playground, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush

Frontier Imaginaries, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane


Propositions Three, Milani Gallery, Brisbane

Guarding the Home Front, Casula Powerhouse, New South Wales

10th Palimpsest Biennale, Mildura, Victoria


Tears of Rage, Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Why not walk backwards?, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne

Conflict: Contemporary responses to war, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane

A Special Arrow Was Shot In The Neck, David Roberts Art Foundation, London

On Return and What Remains, Artspace, Sydney

Now the heart is filled with gold as if it were a purse, Arts Project Australia, Melbourne


Landings at the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam

Mix Tape 1980s: Appropriation, Subculture, Critical Style, Ian Potter Centre, NGV:A. From the National Gallery collection, curator, Max Delany.

Imperial Pastoral: On Constructions of Rurality, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Murray River Grids.

New3: Selected recent acquisitions 2011-1013, University of Queensland Art Museum.  Life Is Full of Situations, etching, 1978.

Drawing Now, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, COFA. Quarry, artists book, 1999.


101 Contemporary Australian Artists, Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria.

Desert Equinox, Broken Hill. Re-installed Thunderbolt near Coles Supermarket, South Broken Hill (ERIA - ARC Linkage Grant).

Agent Orange Benefit, Mori Gallery, Sydney. Ecology 101: Bottlebrush, photograph.  

Volume One: the MCA Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Documentation of Murray River Punch,  Dogman series, Controlled Atmosphere, Jabiluka UO2.


A Different Temporality, Monash University Museum of Art [MUMA], Melbourne.  Photography, 1977; video of the 1980 Murray River Punch performance; etchings; publication, Murray/Murundi pub. EAF, 1981.

Buffer Zone, Sydney Olympic Park Armory Gallery, Sydney. Reverb, Site specific sound installation.  An Environmental Research Initiative for Art project (ERIA), COFA.

Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011. Museum of Contemporary Art satellite exhibition, the National Art School Gallery, Darlinghurst, Sydney. Artist’s box from Austauch/Exchange (collaboration with Marr Grounds, 1982).

Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011.  National Museum of Contemporary Art. Seoul, Korea.

Perspectiktiva, COFA space. Screening, Shock & Awe: Chookwoman’s Tour of the Georges River Headwaters. PowerPoint.


In the Balance, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Printmaking, performance, book (Murray/Murundi), photography from 1977 to 2008, from the Murray   River series.

River, Cambelltown Arts Centre, Cambelltown, NSW. Commission. Photography and an edition of postcards. 

The Challenged Landscape, UTS Gallery. Photography and performance of Murray River Punch: the 21st Century. Curator, Sandy Edwards.

Cry Me a River, Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney University. Drawing and photography on a Chinese- style scroll regarding the proposed Tillegra Dam. 

To Give Time to Time, Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide. Murray River Punch and Murray River Punch: the 21st Century performance screenings.           

To Give Time to Time, Mildura Palimpsest, Mildura, Victoria. Murray River Punch and Murray River Punch: the 21st Century performance screenings.


Heat: Art and Climate Change, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne. 

When You Think About Art, Ewing and George Paton Gallery, Melbourne University. 

Urban Screens Melbourne 08 (USM08), Federation Square. 


Five by Five, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney. 

Henri Warland Art Prize. Warrnambool Art Gallery, Warrnambool, Victoria.


The Cleveland Street Project, Performance Space, Sydney. 

Procession, Mai's Gallery, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 


National Sculpture Prize. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

States of Transformation, COFA Gallery, UNSW.


Even, Mildura Arts Centre, Lake Benenee.


This was the Future: Australian Sculpture of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and Today, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne.

Reverb, Mai's Gallery, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Outside In, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.


Fieldwork Inaugural exhibition of Federation Square’s Ian Potter Centre for Australian art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Border Panic, Performance Space and Museum Of Contemporary Art, Sydney. 

3 Foot Square, COFA, Sydney 


Histories in the Making, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney. 


Spitting and Biting, Monash University Gallery, Melbourne. 


We Are Australian, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne [travelling].

Shifting Currents: College of Fine Arts Faculty, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, the University of New South Wales. 


Co-Existence: Australian Artists Against Racism, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney.

Private Parts, Monash University Gallery, Melbourne. 

The Acid Test, RMIT Project Space, Melbourne. 


Gift For India, Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, Lalit Kala Galleries, New Delhi; Gallery Chemould, Bombay. 


Parking, Casula Power House, Casula, Sydney. 

The River, travelling (cont.)


Girls Girls Girls, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, & Orange Regional Gallery, NSW. 

The River, Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Victoria & traveling 

Eveolution, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, Newcastle, N.S W.

The Women’s Show, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

25 Years of Performance Art in Australia, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney. Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane & Australian Centre for contemporary Art, Melbourne.


Spirit Level: Fifth Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne.


Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia.


In Transit, Canterbury, UK.

Australian Prints, Australian National Gallery, Canberra


Bicentennial Print Portfolio, Australian National Gallery, Canberra


Making Appearances, Charlottenberg Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. 


Continuum, Survey of Australian Art, G Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japa

Performance Festival, Kunsterhaus Bethanien, West Berlin


Murray River Punch, performance, Rundle Street Mall, Adelaide. Experimental Art Foundation residency


Murray River Punch, performance, George Paton and Ewing Gallery, Melbourne University. Women at Work, a festival of women’s performance art.

The Security Show, George Paton & Ewing Galleries, University of Melbourne. HQ, installation.

15 Sculptors (travelling) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney


The Women’s Show, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide.

The Map Show, George Paton & Ewing Galleries, University of Melbourne. 


Women’s Postal Event, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, United Kingdom. 


Three Statements on Environment, George Paton & Ewing Galleries, University of Melbourne. 

Post Object Show, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide. 


The Grid Show, George Paton & Ewing Galleries, University of Melbourne.


Group student exhibition, Prahran College of Fine Arts. Melbourne.




Heat, catalogue, 2008, RMIT Gallery.

Helen Vivian, When You Think About Art: the Ewing and George Paton Galleries 1971 – 2008. Macmillan Publishing, 2008.

Waterlow, N., 5 x 5, pub. Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, catalogue notes. 2007

Catriona Moore, Not Just a Pretty Face: Art as an Ecological Communication 2007). Pub. University of Sydney Press. (re Murray River Punch, P 357, 358).

Who’s Who of Australian Women – Leadership and Beyond, Crown Content, 2005.

Crawford, Ashley, Long live the tent embassy. The Age, July 30, 2005.

McDonald, J., Emotion in Slow Motion, Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald [SMH], 3-4/9/04

Neylor, M. & S., Even by Name, Even by… Sunraysia Daily, 17/3/04

Engberg, Juliana, Breadline: Women and Food. Art Link, Vol. 19, No. 

Kaufman, Nicola, The George Paton Gallery and the Avant-garde. Catalogue essay for Reunion: the art of sixteen graduates”, George Paton Gallery. The University of Melbourne’s 150th Anniversary, May, 2003.

James, Bruce, Don’t be Afraid to Touch Them, They Won’t Bite, 28/5/03, SMH.

Dr Juliet Peers, This was the Future, the McClelland Sculpture Award and Sculpture at RMIT during the Jomantas Years 1961-198. Art Link, VOL 24 NO 1.

“Bonita Ely's welcome inclusion indicated the input of `70s feminism to expanding sculptural possibilities.”

Merritt, B., On the Outside Looking In, Daily Herald, Salt Lake City, 30/10/03

Wright, L., Outside Inside: Installation Art at the MOA, The Daily Universe, 14/10/03

Seymour, N., Museum Draws Varied Exhibits to Campus, The Daily Universe, 7/1/04

Quoc Hung, Cultural Fusion, The Saigon Times Daily, 16/9/03.

Thomas, D. 2002.Terra. Catalogue, Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968 - 2002, the Ian Potter Centre [IPC] , National Gallery of Victoria [NGV], pp.66, 67

Green, C., 2002, Into the 90s: the decay of postmodernism. Catalogue, Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968 - 2002, IPC., NGV., pp. 102, 104.

Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968 - 2002, IPC., NGV., p. 152.

Hill, P., Simple Pleasures and Hue, SMH, 8/11/02

Hill, P., Raise the Baa. Metro, SMH, 8-14/11/02, p. 26.

Hill, P., Critic’s Picks, SMH, 1/11/02

Duncan, J., Michael, L., Monash University Collection: four decades of collecting, Monash University Museum of Art. 2002.

Woodburn, Jena, Bonita Ely: Inside Mawson's Sleeping Bag. Eyeline, ISSUE #46 SPRING 2001.

Hill, P., 3 Foot Square, Critic's Picks, Metro, SMH, 1st November, 2002

Surgeon, Graham: “The Development of Australian Sculpture”, Thames and Hudson, London, United Kingdom

Scarlett, Ken: A Dictionary of Australian Sculptors

Germain, Max: A Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Artists

Burke, Janine: “Site Specific: Bonita Ely’s Landscapes”, Island Magazine 1981

Murphy, Bernice: “Perspecta” catalogue, Pub. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1981

“Art in Australia”, Vol. 18, August 1981, p. 227

"Art and Australia", Volume 19, No. 2, Fine Arts Press, 1981

Paroissien, Leon: “Art Review – 1982”

Paroissien, Leon: “Art Review – 1983”

“Island Magazine”, No. 16 (Anzart Supplement) September 1983

“Perspecta 83 Catalogue”, update section, AGNSW

Brady, Tess, Boult, Jenny: “After the Rage”, Tutu Press, Adelaide, 1983

“Art Link”, Vol. 3., No. 3, July/August, 1983

Marsh, Ann, Kent, Jane: “Live Art”, Pub. Adelaide, 1984

Taylor, Paul: “Anything Goes– Art in Australia 1970 - 1980”, Pub. Art and Text, Melbourne, 1984

Catalano, Gary: “The Bandaged Image: A Study of Australian Artist’s Books”, Hale and Ironmonger, 1984, Sydney

Bond, Tony: “Perspecta 85 Catalogues”. Pub. Art Gallery of New South Wales

Ruinard, E: “Dogwoman Makes History”, (cat) First Draft, 1986, Sydney

“A Certain Place”, Artspace, 1987, Sydney (catalogue)

Bruce, Adams: "Traversing the Difficult Territory of Aboriginal Art", Sydney Morning Herald, Jan.,16, 1987

Coventry, Virginia: “The Critical Distance”, Hale and Ironmonger, Sydney 1987

McIntyre, Arthur: “Australian Contemporary Drawing: Resurgence and Re–Definition”, Boolarong Publications, 1988

March, Anne: “Performance Art in the 1970’s”, Art in Australia, Autumn 1989

“In Transit: Australian Sculpture, Video, Performance”, catalogue publication. Drew Gallery, Canterbury, and Chisenhale Gallery, London, United Kingdom, 1989

Losche, Diane: “Osmosis: Irony and Disappearance”, Art Monthly Australia, No. 35, October 1990

“Art Dock: Art Contemporain Australien”, (cat.), Noumea, New Caledonia, pub. Department of Cultural Affairs, New Caledonia. 1990

Burke, Janine: “Field of Vision, A Decade of Change: Women Artists In the70s”, 1990, pub. Viking Penguin Books, Australia.

“Unfamiliar Territory”, catalogue pub. Art Gallery of South Australia, 1992

Jill Graham, Rebels and Precursors by Richard Hause and Murray/Murundi by Bonita Ely, book revue, Art and Text, Autumn, 1982.

Kirby, Sandy: “Sight Lines: Women’s Art and Feminist Perspectives in Australia”, pub. Craftman House, 1992

Marsh, Anne: "Body and Self: Performance Art in Australia 1969 – 92", 1993 Oxford University Press

Brauer, Faye: “Bonita Ely: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” , Eyeline, No. 21, Autumn, 1993

Green, Charles: “Art as Printmaking: The Deterritorialised Print”, Art Monthly, No. 58, April, 1993

"Fifth Australian Sculpture Triennial”, 1993, (cat.) Art Gallery of NSW

Sullivan, Graeme: “Seeing Australia: Views of Artists and Art Writers” , Piper Press 1994

Green, C., "Peripheral Vision: Contemporary Australian Art, 1970 - 1994"; Craftsman House, 1995

Kenyon, T., "Under A Hot Tin Roof: Art, Passion and Politics At The Tin Sheds Art Workshop"; Power Publications, U. of S., 1995

Timms, P., "Impressed By Nature", art., The Herald - Sun, August 23, 1995

Graham, Jill, Book Reviews: “Richard Haese, Rebels and Precursors, the Revoluton Years of Australian Art, and Bonita Ely, Murray/Murrundi, Adelaide, Experimental Art Foundation, 1981. Art and Text, Autumn, 1982, Pp71 – 81.


Awards & Prizes



Short listed, National Sculpture Prize, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra


Visual Arts Board, Australia Council – Kiffi Rubbo Memorial Art Award Grant


Henri Worland Memorial Arts Prize, Warrnambool, Victoria.




National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, A.C.T.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane

University of New South Wales, Sydney

Griffith University, Brisbane

Victorian Law Courts, Melbourne

Art Bank, Sydney

Warrnambool Art Gallery, Victoria

The Araluen Centre, Alice Springs South Australia

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania

Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, Western Australia

City of Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, Victoria

Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, New South Wales

Naracoorte Ar Gallery, Naracoorte, South Australia

Perci Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, Queensland

Museo de Arts de Sao Paolo, Brazil

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Central Art Gallery, Beijing, China

Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France

Staatliche Museum, West Berline, Germany

British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, London

National Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens, Greece

National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India

National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta

Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, Rome, Italy

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

National Institute of Fine Arts, Mexico City

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

National Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

National Museum and Art Gallery, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, United States of America

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, USSR

Narodna Gallerija, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia

National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare

University of California, Los Angeles


Public Art Projects


2010 Thunderbolt Permanent installation, South Broken Hill, initially for Desert Equinox, Australia’s first solar art exhibition.


2010 Thunderbolt Jacaranda Park, Sydney Olympic Park to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the beginning of the Sydney Olympics.


2006 Lake Thunder.

Public sculpture commission, 4th International Sculpture Symposium,.

Thuy Tien Lake, Thien An, Hue, Vietnam.


2002  Longevity: Scissors and Sickles

Public sculpture commission, 3rd International Sculpture Symposium: Hue, Vietnam. LOCATION: City Hall, Hue, Vietnam.


1998  Light House

Public sculpture commission, architectural folly. 1st International Sculpture Symposium. Playground of the Children’s Cultural Centre, Le Loi Street, Hue.Vietnam