Janjari, a major new work by internationally renowned Badtjala contemporary artist Dr Fiona Foley marks the first acquisitive commission by Hervey Bay Regional Gallery since reopening in 2022. 

Filmed entirely on K’gari, a flowing narrative guides the viewer from west to east of the world’s largest sand island. Foley’s work is deeply rooted in her ancestral connection to K’gari, a location that holds ongoing cultural, spiritual and environmental significance for Badtjala people. This video includes imagery alluding to K’gari’s creation story, featuring Yindingie (carpet snake) who formed the landscape of Butchulla country from the island to the western boundary of Mount Bauple. 

Remaining committed to flipping the ethnographic lens of colonial myth making, Foley has used 19th century costume traditions in Janjari. However, the Aboriginal performers wearing the clothes in the film reclaim their power and agency as the protagonists of the island.

Janjari is the Butchulla word for spirit guardian. The raw and varied beauty captured in Janjari brings K’gari’s spirit alive. Laced with Fiona Foley’s signature tension between a haunted past, contemplation of solitude and moments of joy and humour, this piece is a significant addition to the artist’s oeuvre and HBRG’s collection.

This project is commissioned and funded by Hervey Bay Regional Gallery. Additional support from the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), a partnership between the Queensland Government and Fraser Coast Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.