Chips Mackinolty — Social Fabric: Banners and prints 2010–2013 — 11 July to 3 August 2013

Social Fabric: Banners from the Northern Territory 2010-2013 at Sydney Trades Hall

Social Fabric: Prints from the Northern Territory 2010-2013 at The Cross Art Projects


Dates: 11 July to 3 August 2013

Venues: Sydney Trades Hall

4-10 Goulburn Street, Sydney. Also entry via 377 Sussex St. (Note not open weekends.)

The Cross Art Projects, 8 LLankelly Place, Kings Cross


Conversations: Nicole Foreshew, artist, opening talk at Sydney Trades Hall — 11 July 2013 at 7pm

Artist Talk: Chips Mackinolty and Neil Towart at Sydney Trades Hall — 12 July at 1pm

Tour of Trades Hall Banner Collection, Monday 3 August at 5pm with art historian Dr Ann Stephen, co-author of Badges of Labour, Banners of Pride (Powerhouse Museum, 1986), Neale Towart, Trades Hall archivist and curator, and conservator Karen Coote


Download pdf: 'Social Fabric' by Chips Mackinolty at Sydney Trades Hall, 2013



Mackinolty, Year of the Aboriginal Health Worker, 2010, 133 x 400 cm


Chips Mackinolty's Social Fabric, comprises a splendid installation of banners by the artist in the historic Sydney Trades Hall and prints at The Cross Art Projects.

Apart from a few works in collective shows, this is the first time in over 35 years that Chips has exhibited in Sydney. Welcome home.

In First World Australia we often talk about social cohesion and human rights abuses while ignoring appalling outcomes in Aboriginal health, housing, employment and the injustice of increasing incarceration rates. Prompted by the coercive reconciliation policies of the Howard/Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments, Social Fabric shows the positive side of the battle over access to media.


The banners are 'public art' interventions that encourage and cajole individual action and they claim public space for Aboriginal and alternative cultures, ideas and economies. The banners have already worked hard appearing at showgrounds, community halls and in May Day parades across the Northern Territory. Social Fabric will continue as a compact touring exhibition, with the next stop being the Supreme Court in Darwin. From the bush to the big smoke, from the high to the low.


These are artworks that have been produced for clients — mostly Aboriginal Health and Medical NGOs — working at a long distance from the Murdochs and others who purport to speak for the betterment of Aboriginal Australians. Over half of the exhibition deals with progressive politics in the Territory: from the Kahlin Compound days of Aboriginal workers being segregated and locked up each night to today and the 'challenges' of coercive reconciliation under the Intervention.




Mackinolty, United in struggle, united in sacrifice, 2012, 250 x 130 cm

Social Fabric shows the artist’s commitment to Aboriginal rights as a liberation movement, but reflects other issues besides: anti-militarism, trade unionism and the lives of other activists and artists, notably the late Michael Callaghan.


Chips Mackinolty’s innovative propaganda has flourished for over four decades as he rides the waves of change in technology, writing and cultural politics. In the flourishing art scenes of the 1970s and 1980s, Chips and other postermakers from the Tin Sheds at Sydney University created the art that promoted the great women’s, Aboriginal, environmental, heritage and gay and lesbian rights social movements. When Earthworks Poster Collective dissolved in 1979, Chips and many of its artists took up the cause of fighting for Aboriginal land rights, working as art advisers, artists and activists. He worked as an art adviser to Aboriginal art centres in Katherine (Mimi Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, 1981 to 1985) and Mutitjulu (Maruku Arts, 1985).


Between 1985 and 1990 he worked at the Northern Land Council in Darwin as a journalist, designer and field officer. In 1990 with friends he set up a graphic arts and research centre, Green Ant Publishing, producing posters, t-shirts and books. He has also worked as an adviser to the Northern Territory Labor Government, 2002 to 2009, under various ministers, then worked for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory as a policy worker. Chips Mackinolty was recognised as an exceptional artist with the National Gallery of Australia acquiring some 247 of his works.


A rousing touring exhibition, Not dead yet: A retrospective exhibition of Therese Ritchie and Chips Mackinolty, surveys this dazzling output. Anita Angel, curator of the Charles Darwin University Art Collection and Art Gallery, traces their powerful, humorous and persuasive art from the original inner-city 'protest art'  to the struggles of remote Aboriginal communities for land rights, cultural recognition and decent living conditions.


Artists like Chips Mackinolty have helped 'rally the troops' by exposing burning social and political issues otherwise muted, misrepresented or simply ignored in the mainstream press. As an artist, journalist and health activist, Chips knows the politics from the grassroots up to the dastardly decision makers. His art remains a beacon of integrity and the power of the creative imagination to sort truth from dross spin. Chips Mackinolty's banners continue to imagine new actions and models for participation, engagement and opposition and fight for the rights of minorities to have a public voice.


The Banners Project is presented by The Cross Art Projects with Trades Hall and Unions NSW for NAIDOC Week with special thanks to archivist Neil Towart and the 13th Biennial Labor History Conference.


Links: Sydney Trades Hall Banner Collection


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Nicole Foreshew, artist, opening talk for Social Fabric at Sydney Trades Hall, 11 July 2013 Nicole Foreshew, Chips Mackinolty and Lillian Gordon Social Fabric, installation view, 11 July 2013 for NAIDOC Week  



Social Fabric, installation view, 11 July 2013 for NAIDOC Week



Survey Exhibition, Not dead yet: A retrospective exhibition of Therese Ritchie and Chips Mackinolty at Charles Darwin University Art Gallery

CDU Art Gallery installation photos

Opening photos

Touring exhibitions

About Not Dead Yet scroll down to 2010


For more banner history see Neale Towart's site



Chips Mackinolty, Grog in the Territory, 2012, 170 x 295 cm