Bindi Cole / Wathaurung people / Australia b.1975 / I forgive you 2012 / Emu feathers on MDF board / 11 pieces: 100 x 800cm (installed, approx.) | Purchased 2012. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Bindi Cole/Licensed by Viscopy, 2013

Bindi Cole
I forgive you 2012

Not Currently on Display

Forgiveness is a deeply personal act and can be very difficult for some people. The idea of forgiveness for Aboriginal Australians can be connected to the reconciliation movement and to the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, made in 2008 by the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, MP.

In this work, Bindi Cole felt that written words covered with emu feathers, a beautiful and unique material native to Australia, would make her message instantly appealing and easy to understand.

The words, ‘I forgive you’ can mean many things, depending on how and by whom they are spoken or written. This work reflects the important role of forgiveness in contemporary Australian and Aboriginal society.

Bindi Cole was born in Melbourne in 1975, and has both Aboriginal (Wathaurung people) and British–Australian heritage.

She uses photography, painting, collage, text, video, performance, sound and projections in her deeply personal works.

In 2009, Cole won the Deadly Art Award as part of the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards. Her highly successful ‘Sistagirls’ series was first shown in Melbourne in 2010 and has since travelled around Australia and to the United States.


Watch Bindi Cole discuss her artwork. How does the artist capture the attention of her audience?

Discuss the different meanings of the phrase ‘I forgive you’. What is the difference between the use of ‘I’ versus ‘we’ when forgiveness is expressed? Pull out the word ‘give’ from within ‘forgive’ to contemplate the meaning of both words as of importance to Cole’s work.


Think of an important message you would like to convey about reconciliation. Consider at least three ways to use text and different media to convey your message. Factor in where people will experience your work (i.e. a social media post, a billboard, or as an artwork in a gallery). Ask your classmates which approach is most effective and why.