Vale Rosemary Laing and Destiny Deacon

May 2024

It is with deep sadness that we mark the passing of not one, but two, remarkable Australian artists and women, both the subjects of Piper Press books. Vale Destiny Deacon, one of our leading indigenous artists and Rosemary Laing, the extraordinary photo artist. May their life and work live on in their many works throughout national collections. Our thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues.

Rosemary Laing was represented by Tolarno Galleries who stated, "With a heavy heart, we wish to acknowledge the passing of Rosemary Laing on Thursday, 23 May 2024 following a short illness.

One of Australia’s most revered artists, Rosemary produced a truly singular body of work in an international career spanning more than four decades....

Her final exhibition, swansongs, in March-April 2024, comprised unique photographs accompanied by delicate ‘shellworks’.

‘swansongs,’ she said, was about ‘a love of, an attachment to, homeland or places of belonging … all the memories and histories that have stemmed from that place, and the making of a kind of ‘song’ that combines the enigma of this attachment with a sadness for what has happened in this place.’

Destiny Deacon was represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery who stated: 

It is with profound sadness that we share news of the passing of Destiny Deacon, a pioneering artist and cherished friend of the gallery for more than 20 years.⁠

Destiny’s work, known for its witty and incisive exploration of Indigenous identity, political activism, and cultural resilience, has left an indelible mark on the Australian art landscape and beyond.⁠

Her commitment to socio-political dissidence is exemplified in the triptych ‘Blak lik mi’ (1991-2003) which is widely accepted as the first use of the spelling ‘blak’, catalysing the redefinition and reclamation of the spelling and meaning of the word ‘black’. ⁠

We have no doubt that Destiny’s legacy will continue to inspire and resonate with future generations, serving as a potent impetus for social change and collective healing.⁠

Further reading

Embedded in our psyche art world mourns leading Australian photographer

Trailblazing Australian artist known for provocative political work dies

Fiona Hall discusses 'Paradisus Terrestris' series: QAGOMA