Bonita Ely’s first exhibition was in London in 1972, but recognition of her artwork in Australia effectively started at the Mildura Sculpture Triennial of 1975, where she exhibited a close and complex examination of Mount Feathertop, a location in the Victorian Alpine region that tested the tensions between observation and interpretation in visual representation.
Her interdisciplinary installation, C20th Mythological Beasts: at Home with the Locust People (1975) had its beginnings in New York where Bonita Ely lived from 1973 to 1975. Sunset Video’s poignant sound, composed by Mark Freedman, and images of working boats on the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, the shore line of New Jersey all shrouded in pollution, drew the viewer into the installation’s spatiality as an active participant rather than passive observer.
This corporeal engagement of the viewer characterises Ely’s practice.
Exhibited in institutions such as Chisenhale Gallery, London, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Harbourfront, Toronto, and the 18th Street Arts Centre, Los Angeles, USA, Documenta14, Athens and Kassel, Germany Bonita Ely’s experimental artwork is in international collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and has been selected for significant contemporary art events such as Fieldwork, the opening of the Ian Potter Centre for Australian Art, Federation Square, Melbourne, and Documenta14 in Kassel, Germany and Athens in 2017.
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
- Let Me Take You There: The Great Artesian Basin, Milani Gallery, Brisbane
- MCA Artist Room, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
- Bonita Ely: Future Tense, Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane
- 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
- 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
- Courage and Beauty: The James C. Sourris AM Collection, QAGOMA, Brisbane
- Personal Structures, European Cultural Centre, Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy
- A Diachronic Wind, MADA Gallery, Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Melbourne
- Art After Dark, Biennale of Sydney, Barangaroo, Sydney
- All air, all space, all light, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, Goulburn
- A Year in Art: Australia 1992, TATE Modern, London
- On Earth, Queensland University Art Museum, Brisbane
- MCA Collection: Perspectives on Place, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
- Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now: Part 1, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
- Memento, Penrith Regional Gallery, New South Wales
- Water, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
- Material Place: Reconsidering Australian Landscapes, UNSW Galleries, Sydney.
- Human Free Earth, Plasticity of the Planet, lokal_30, Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland
- From the Kitchen Table, Drew Gallery Projects 1984-90, The Gallery and Dilston Grove, London
- m_othering the perceptual art poetica, Counihan Gallery, Victoria
- From the Kitchen Table, Drew Gallery Projects 1984-90, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury
- Frontier Imaginaries ed. 5: Trade Markings, Vanabbe Museum, Eindhoven
- In Site: Process, Performance, Documentation, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- They Say I Look Like My Mother, 55 Sydneham Road, Sydney
- Toxic Assets: Frontier Imaginaries Ed.No3, E-Flux and Columbia University, New York (d)OCUMENTA 14, Athens and Kassel
- Red Green Blue: A History of Video Art, Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane
- The Dust Never Settles, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- Troubled 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 2011-2013, 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.
Selected 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
- 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, Russia
- Narodna Gallerija, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia
- National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare
- University of California, Los Angeles
Selected Public Art Projects
- Thunderbolt Permanent installation, South Broken Hill, initially for Desert Equinox, Australia’s first solar art exhibition.
- Thunderbolt Jacaranda Park, Sydney Olympic Park to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the beginning of the Sydney Olympics.
- Longevity: Scissors and Sickles. Public sculpture commission, 3rd International Sculpture Symposium: Hue, Vietnam. LOCATION: City Hall, Hue, Vietnam
- Bonita ElyPortrait of an Artist Event at SLQ
- Bonita Ely, D Harding, Gordon Bennett, Jon Cattapan, Judy Watson, Peter Kennedy, Richard Bell, Robert Hunter, Ross Manning, Rosslynd Piggott, Vernon Ah Kee, Vivienne BinnsExhibition at QAGOMA
- Bonita Ely, Megan Cope, D HardingExhibition at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery