Jennifer Isaacs AM

2021 Inductee

For Jennifer Isaacs AM, a pupil at Kilbreda College from 1950 to 1961, “the school experience was of course unforgettable and moulded me in so many ways.” Through her dedication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists and their art, Jennifer has made an extraordinary contribution to the understanding and appreciation of Australian Aboriginal art and artists through her work as a writer, art consultant and curator. Through maintaining
strong links with remote communities, Jennifer is committed to ethical practices which benefit indigenous communities and individuals ensuring artists are appropriately remunerated enabling them to live with dignity and respect. Her influence in this sphere has been recognised both domestically and globally.

A member of the Australia Council (the country’s peak arts funding body), Jennifer has travelled extensively through the country since the 1970s, helping develop significant policies in Aboriginal arts, including the principles covering copyright and intellectual property rights. She is a pioneer in gaining respect for Aboriginal culture and is the author of 25 books on Aboriginal art, religion, plant use, food, medicine and oral history.

Jennifer has lectured at the prestigious National Geographic Society in Washington DC., has been a keynote speaker at national and international conferences and has tutored in aspects of both indigenous and non-indigenous culture. She has consulted with governments and corporations and has curated numerous exhibitions and collections of Aboriginal art in Australia, the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Prominent among these is the exhibition ‘Spirit Country’, which toured the United States, China and Japan.

For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) she produced educational
publications advising on the protection and restoration of heritage-listed art work. Jennifer
has commissioned, managed and installed Aboriginal art works for Australian international
airports and has organised national exhibitions of Aboriginal women’s art. Her 40 years plus
association with Tiwi Islands elders and families resulted in the publication of ‘Tiwi: Art,
History, Culture’.

In 2003, Jennifer was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of her
work promoting Aboriginal culture and assisting Aboriginal artists.