Wednesday, November 30, 2022  
keeping .. place
Eveleigh shed 2007 - 2010

Selling off a blackfella's dream

Aboriginal Keeping Place seeks home in James Packer's Barangaroo casino

Jeff McMullen with Elaine and Gordon Syron

THE most comprehensive collection of art highlighting indigenous life in Australia is seeking a permanent home and James Packer's proposed Barangaroo casino is the prime site. Assembled by artists Gordon and Elaine Syron, the priceless collection documents the Aboriginal struggle over the past half century. The collection, which has been moving from home to home, is now seeking a permanent site called The Aboriginal Keeping Place and former 60 Minutes reporter and spokesman for the Keeping Place Jeff McMullen thinks Barangaroo would be perfect. Since the collection moved from the old railways sheds at Redfern it has had to be housed in temporary homes," Mr McMullen said. We have never created an Aboriginal space that connects the storytelling painters, musicians and photographers with the international visitors and all the other Australians who come to Sydney and want to have some kind of access to Aboriginal cultural rights. The casino at Barangaroo could be an opportunity to establish a site for the Keeping Place. We have given the Barangaroo Society a 30-page submission from the curator's point of view, the dollar value and also the tourism and cultural value. Mr McMullen said it will be the most comprehensive collection of art highlighting the plight of Aboriginal Australians ever assembled. New York and Washington have museums dedicated to honouring the Native Americans and their struggles, why not Sydney?; he said. It has huge variety and depth and every person involved in the art world who has seen it understands its historical value and understands it is an opportunity to give this country a presentation of the story it hasn't largely come to grips with.
Central Magazine 6 Dec 12


 Monday 17th October 2011


The Honourable Julia Gillard

Prime Minister of Australia


The Honourable Barry O’Farrell                    

Premier of New South Wales


The Honourable Clover Moore

Lord Mayor of Sydney



Dear Mesdames and Sir,


Re:      Collection ‘The Keeping Place’


           I write as a long time local solicitor and resident in supporting the request set out below and in giving myself as a contact for the campaign to preserve ‘The Keeping Place’


We the undersigned, request that the Syrons’ ‘Keeping Place’ collections be saved and secured for the Redfern and Waterloo community and the benefit of the public at large .

The collection is at present dispersed in Addison Road Gallery Marrickville Community Centre, individual private homes, churches, a barn in Gosford, and Greens Party HQ, Eve St. Erskineville, which has sprung a leak. It is in danger of being permanently and irrevocably lost, damaged and/ or dispersed.

The Syrons lived in the Eveleigh Railway Shed for over 3 years with the collection, with Robert Domm's permission. The Wilson St shed became earmarked for re-development; after eviction notices were issued and a lengthy mediation the Syrons and the collection vacated the shed and have since lost a battle to keep the collection together.

The Elaine Pelot-Syron photographic archive has been separated now from the art making the collection smaller and more viable and marketable. The photographic archive has been accepted by Sydney University and is appropriately part of the Eveleigh/Redfern area.

It is an example of the continuing neglect of Aboriginal Artists of New South Wales that there appears to be no viable and secure place to house the collection for the public benefit. .
This collection has many artworks of national and local significance.
For example a collection of Coloured Diggers artworks is very important to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of the Redfern area, as well as having Australia-wide significance. There is a portrait of Shirley Smith, ‘Mum Shirl’ and a photographic collection of Eveleigh street and surrounds which spans three decades .


The website  which will illustrate a lot of the collection will soon be available for viewing. There are thousands of items in the collection.


We join the patrons of ‘The Keeping Place‘ - Jeff McMullen, The Honourable Michael Kirby, Professor Larissa Behrendt and Craddock Morton  working towards finally preserving and saving ‘The Keeping Place‘.



Yours faithfully 


1. Stephen Friend, Solicitor, FRIEND & Co. Lawyers


2. Rev. Andrew Collis, South Sydney Uniting Church & Editor of South Sydney Herald


3. Rev. Dorothy McRae McMahon, South Sydney Uniting Church and SSH

4. Geoff Turnbull - REDWatch 

5. Mick Mundine - CEO of Aboriginal Housing Co. & Pemulwuy project, Redfern

6. Naomi Mayers - Director of Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern (over 30 years)

7. Pastor Ray Minnecon - Aboriginal Pastor, runs the Aboriginal Digger Project


8. Shireen Malamoo - panel member of advisors to Sydney City Council


9. Lily Shearer - Director of Gadigal Information Services and Koori Radio


10. Millie Ingram - CEO of Wyanga, Redfern


11. Margaret Campbell- Walking Tours of the Rocks - Heritage Tours/Review of SHFA The Rocks- Proposed Management Advisory Panel for Aboriginal Cultural Heritage interpretation in The Rocks. 

12. Shane Phillips - CEO of Tribal Warrior

13. Irene Doutney - Sydney City Councillor, Greens & Redfern resident

    2007 - 2010  

The Redfern Waterloo Authority hosted the Keeping Place from October 2007 until November 2010. The collection was packed up and placed into storage, and in 2011 was made available to purchase.


Keeping Place150.jpg

Big news in Germany.
Go all the way to the end in this gorgeous National Geographic edition by Karolin Seinsche. Don't worry that you can't speak German, check out the photos.

    Recent news  
    A keeping place  

Gordon Syron and his collection … "People are coming in and cherry-picking and I won't have it any more. It just hurts us too much."
SMH 13/11/08

An Aboriginal Keeping Place


…celebrating our survival…


….growing our culture…


…protecting our heritage…


…keeping our community strong…



The Vision…


To create a National Aboriginal Keeping Place and Cultural Centre in Sydney that celebrates our survival, provides a space for the contemporary expression of our contemporary culture, protects our heritage and keeps our community strong.


Our plan to form The Keeping Place and Cultural Centre is to find a benefactor who will purchase the Black Fella's Dreaming Museum's collection from Gordon and Elaine Syron and use it to found the Keeping Place and Cultural Centre for the absolute benefit of the Aboriginal commmunities. The benefactor will not sub-divide the collection for any purpose and will guarantee that all artworks currently belonging to the Museum will be included in the founding collection of the Keeping Place. Artworks by Gordon Syron and photographs by Elaine Pelot-Syron will be loaned to and preserved by The Keeping Place and Cultural Centre.


The heart and starting point for the Keeping Place and Cultural Centre is the Gordon and Elaine Syron Black Fella's Dreaming Museum. It is an important collection that contains many of Australia’s leading contemporary and urban Aboriginal artists such as:


Bronwyn Bancroft, Gordon Hookey, Christine Christopherson (Kakadu mining), Michael Riley, Adam Hill, Gordon Syron, Danny Eastwood, Darren Cooper, Merv Bishop, Karen Casey, Carmel Nicholson, Euphemia Bostock, Daphne Wallace, Roy Kennedy, Jeffrey Samuels, Karla Dickens, James P. Simon, Laddie Timbrey, David Janganlinji, Shane “Yondee” Hanson, Tim Ives, Bev Coe and Michelle Blakeney.


Some other important traditional pieces are: two large bark paintings by Robin Nganjmirra, eight (early) controversial Clifford Possums, four early Gabriella Possums, 66 body paintings by Emily Kngwarreye and her family, Mary Dixon, Gordon Pupugamirri, Kamahi Djordon King, Djawida Nadjongorle, Abraham Dakgalawuy, Lindsay Bird Petyarre, David Cameron, Joshua Bangarr, Chris Ngaboy, Yarramunua, Vivianne Gilbert Muiya, Billy Petyarre, an early Michael Jagamara Nelson, an early Lily Sandover, Dorothy Smith and 40 “Bunda” paintings from the Northern Territory and hundreds more.


A catalogue of the all of the artworks in the Syron's collection is almost finished and it will soon be released to the public.


The collection also includes unseen and never-published photographs taken by Elaine (Kitchener) Pelot-Syron that document events, portraits and Sydney's history over the last thirty five years. 



Unpublished photo by Elaine Syron 1980s

 'Mum Shirl leading land rights rally'

Return to : People and places/Art
Terms Of Use  |  Privacy Statement  |  Copyright (c) 2022 Redfern Oral History  | Register  |  Login |  Website Solution: Pixel Alchemy