Real Australian: Peter Drew

Real Australian: Peter Drew

What does it mean to be a ‘real Australian’ in an age of globalised citizenship, when individual and collective identity are moderated by economic, political, religious and cultural influences. The Adelaide-based artist, Peter Drew has developed a series of street activations, which question national identity, community as well as current and historical immigration policies.

Delving into the archives of state and national cultural collections, Drew revitalises the histories of little known Australians. Reproducing official government photographs as screen printed posters, the aesthetics and techniques of his street art melds past and present. His poster of ‘Aussie’ cameleer Monga Kahn has been seen in city lanes and pasted along regional highways. While Drew’s posters demand attention, the artist moves through the streets almost unseen.

Another project, “Real Australians Seek Welcome” draws parallels between the multiculturalism of modern Australia and the multiplicity of Indigenous cultures that coexisted before European settlement. Drew has designed 250 posters for the series, one for each of the distinct Indigenous language groups that existed before the arrival of Europeans to Australia. The slogan refers to the custom of acknowledging ownership and seeking welcome when travelling across Country. Supported by funds raised through crowd sourcing, the artist has distributed 700 posters for twenty-seven language groups. The project is ongoing.

Allison Holland

Exhibition Details
Customs House, Circular Quay, 5 June ­– 20 December 2018


Listen to Alex McKinnon, a Walkley-nominated journalist and writer, in discussion with artist Peter Drew and photojournalist Glenn Lockitch. The panel explores photography’s role in social change and where the independent image-makers sit in today’s digital and political landscape.