John Patten is an educator, historian, writer, illustrator, film-maker and designer. 

Hailing from Far Northern NSW,  John is a Bundjalung / Yorta Yorta man on his father’s side, and a descendant of First Fleet convicts, Irish rebels and the Saami people of Lapland via his mother.

Steeped in the history and living cultures of his people, John  who takes great joy in sharing knowledge as well as learning from others.

“I’ve an absolute thirst for history. I live and breathe it. If I find myself with any amount of spare time I’ll either be found in my library doing research, or outside in my backyard, carving traditional tools and weapons until late into the evening.”

An aspiring author, playwright and jack of all trades, John holds qualifications in business management, graphic design, education, genealogy and information technology. John works with Museums Victoria.

When I was preparing to meet John and read how his Grandfather John Patten, was one of Australia's leading activists, his father John Patten a prize fighter and respected Law man in NSW and then John's own accomplishments, I thought this guy is the renaissance man.  Leila Gurruwiwi explained to me that in Aboriginal Culture there is no separation of art, science or philosophy, much like the ancient greeks.  And now I see that it is common for achievement across many areas in the modern Aboriginal community.

I have painted John in the much loved Milarri Garden, the native garden that was established while John worked and managed the Bunjilaka Museum at the Melbourne Museum.

NAIDOC Week - National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee

“NAIDOC Week is an important time of the year, which should be celebrated by all Australians. It’s when we honour the past and think about how we can contribute to making a better future, for all of us. 

The day has an added layer of meaning for me, being featured in this exhibition, at this time, as my grandfather and other family members, and community members contributed to NAIDOC coming to fruition.  The week is a continuance of the work set out by people like Jack Patten, Geraldine Briggs, Fred Maynard and many others who worked tirelessly in the 1930’s through to their passing, to create a better future. A regular celebration, borne of the 1938 Day of Mourning, which was organised by my grandfather Jack Patten, and which came from an idea by an Uncle, William Cooper. 

To me, history is sacred and the paintings in this exhibition, are another link in that chain, keeping our stories strong, for the next generation.”



His portrait will be here soon ...