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Fire Plays Eyes to the Blind

Mia Boe

Presented in Season 2 2022

Windows Commission
Presented by Arts House

11 May 22 – 30 June 2022
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Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Wheelchair Accessible

In landscapes real and imagined, an artist reckons with the past of her island home.

Nostalgia, romance and loss are interwoven in Mia Boe’s haunting and evocative new works. Each offers up a landscape in which the artist herself shares space with figures from across history – the woman whose name erased that of her ancestral island K’gari, the famous painter who captured her likeness, and the spirits and family members she has known and will never meet. 

Based in Brisbane with Butchulla and Burmese ancestry, Mia Boe is a painter whose work records and recovers histories that are often concealed or denied. Her art compassionately and patiently traces historical trauma and violence to uncover vital new perspectives through which to process Aboriginal Peoples suffering.  


About the Artist

Mia Boe is a painter from Brisbane, with Butchulla and Burmese ancestry. The inheritance and 'disinheritance' of both of these cultures focus her work. Mia's paintings respond, sometimes obliquely, to Empire’s deliberate, violent interferences with the cultural heritages of Burma and K’gari (Fraser Island).

Artist Statement

These works are reflections on nostalgia. Nostalgia for places that exist and do not exist. I have placed myself within various landscapes with figures from the past. There’s a portrait of my maternal grandmother, Edna — who I never got to meet. There is Eliza Fraser, the woman whose name erased the Butchulla name for my ancestral homeland (K’gari). There is my ancestor Wonamutta (Jack Noble), who was a trooper in the Queensland Native Police, and one of the Black Trackers who helped catch Ned Kelly. There is Sidney Nolan, who painted Eliza Fraser on K’gari, and who also painted Ned Kelly. And the black figures are representations of various spirits. Spirits of family members that I have known and will never meet. These various figures have been my access points to the histories of K’gari. The works are explorations of what it means for me to have lost/stolen connections to a homeland. There is a romanticisation of the idea of a homeland — or homecoming, as well as the acknowledgement of futures lost.


Paintings by Mia Boe
Design adaptation by Raft Studio
Photos by Anne Moffat

Fire Plays Eyes to the Blind has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and the City of Melbourne through Arts House.

Image Credit: Mia Boe

Image Description: Sitting at the table on the burnt landscape of K’gari is Native Police Trooper and ancestor Wonamutta (Jack Noble), a spirit, Sidney Nolan, myself, and Eliza Fraser.

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