Nici Cumpston Speaks on the Darling, Barka Murray River



Nici Cumpston is an artist, curator, writer, educator and a builder of relationships. Nici Cumpston’s gentle, quietly spoken demeanour belies a fierce and resolute passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the development and recognition of their artistic practice. Nici is a Barkindji Woman who embraces her heritage when she creates art in its many forms. Nici talks to 3KND about her role in highlighting what is happening to the Darling, Barka Murray River.



Born in Adelaide in 1963, Cumpston, who is of Afghan, English, Irish and Barkindji Aboriginal heritage, is a descendant of the Darling River people of north western, New South Wales. She is also culturally affiliated with the River Murray people and lived for some years at Berri in the South Australian Riverland. Working for six years in the Forensic department of the South Australian Police Force developed Cumpston’s eye for documenting crime scenes. Her haunting photographs, hand-coloured using watercolours and pencils, capture the ecological devastation wrought on the Murray-Darling Basin.

Cumpston’s lens shows an apocalyptic landscape caused by the re-routing of the river, pollution and salination. Tree stumps, casualties of ring-barking, hover above sandy soil, their tangle of roots exposed; or dot the shoreline of Nookamka (Lake Bonney) like gravestones. The obliteration of the former Indigenous campsite at Nookamka is particularly poignant for Cumpston who has connections to the Murray Darling River System through her Barkindji heritage.


The 'You Are Here' exhibition presented by Boroondara Arts which is apart of Photo2020 located at the Town Hall Gallery from the 21st of March till the Sunday the 10th May. This invites onlookers to question the assumptions they may have on Australian social and cultural constructs in the circumstances of it's landscape and current climate problems. So check this out to see Nici Cumpston's work!

For more information visit the website https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/events/you-are-here

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