Christian Thompson and Paul Gray are the first Aboriginal students at OxfordThe first indigenous Australians to attend Oxford University are starting their studies this term.
Christian Thompson and Paul Gray are both doing doctorates thanks to the inaugural Charlie Perkins scholarship.
Charlie Perkins was the first indigenous Australian to graduate from university.
Mr Gray said: "Prior to this opportunity being announced it wasn't something that I thought was possible for me."
He said that in Australia the statistics suggest that a smaller percentage of indigenous Australians went to university and a place at Oxford seemed so distance it was unachievable.
The opportunity of a scholarship changed his expectations.
"It encouraged me to take the risk to apply; I don't think I'd have applied if the scholarship wasn't there."
He is now studying for a DPhil in Experimental Psychology.
Christian Thompson is already an acclaimed artist and holds a Masters of Fine Art.
He is taking a DPhil in Fine Art using exhibits at the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford as inspiration.
Mr Thompson said: "The scholarship has provided the opportunity to work very intimately with this collection and regain the knowledge that has been almost lost."
His work has already attracted the interest of actress Cate Blanchett, who recently purchased three of his photographs.
Christian Thompson Black Gum IIElleke Boehmer, a member of the Charlie Perkins Trust's Board, said: "It is incredibly moving and significant that these talented postgraduate students from one of the world's most deprived and marginalised communities now have the opportunity, through Charlie Perkins, to study at one of the modern world's oldest centres of learning.
"The scales of historical injustice are being rebalanced."
As seen on BBC news 22/10/10
In honour of his having been selected to attend Oxford University under the Charles Perkins scholarship, Christian Thompson created a new body of work featuring his granddaughters Madeleine, Thea and Lille. The exhibition featured a three channel projection depicting the girls positioned in a staged desert zone accompanied by the elegance of the harp: The work is truly a just appreciation ode to the Perkins' and an important articulation of post-colonial Aboriginal art history.
Heat I, Digital Photograph 2010, 60 x 60cm
Heat II, Digital Photograph 2010, 60 x 60cm
Heat III, Digital Photograph 2010, 60 x 60cm
In his most recent series of videos and stills, Heat, Thompson has again adopted the role of director over that of the actor to capture the affective experience of the desert climate in the Queensland outback. "I love the mysticism and the seductive cruelty of the desert, my home, and how it can be so illusive and alluring and potentially life threatening", Christian Thompson, SMH, September 2010... Thompson's artistic practice successfully navigates and suggests the complexities of the post-colonial situation in Australia today. Thompson constantly plays on the boundary of binaries associated with these issues – black/white, exotic/mainstream, art/anthropology, primitive/futuristic - and never ceases to surprise with his multivalent images. The oppositions are played with and reversed and other alternative spaces are suggested. It is these alternative spaces, those that exist just outside of our central consciousness, that are universal to "the human condition" and are highlighted so poignantly through Thompson's work.
-Kat Sapera 2010
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