Shields programs


Shield by Karl Telfer, Kaurna man

Throughout Shields the Museum is holding activities, talks and children's programs that are inspired by the content of the exhibition.


Curator's talk - Shields in Aboriginal Australia with Dr Philip Jones

Curator's Talk
 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Wednesday, 18 May  2016

Cost: Free, bookings essential

Join Dr Philip Jones, the curator of Shields: power and protection in Aboriginal Australia, as he explores the significance of shields as a weapon and as an emblem of identity. Focusing on pre-European and contact periods and drawing upon archival sources and Museum's own collection, Dr Jones will touch on the universal characteristics of shields, as expressed across world cultures and throughout history.

The talk will also explore the effects of the European colonisation of Australia on the production and use of Aboriginal shields, with examples from the battle-field and the ceremonial ground as well as more recent examples which highlight the contexts of cultural revival, reconstitution, reenactment and exhibition. 


Spectroscopic views into the past: Characterisation of Aboriginal Australian pigments at the South Australian Museum

Dr Rachel Popelka Filcoff

Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff - AINSE Senior Research Fellow in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Flinders University
Tuesday, 5 April at 6-7pm
Pacific Cultures Gallery
Free, but bookings are essential

Aboriginal Australians have been using ochre and other natural mineral pigments for a variety of cultural practices including rock art, body decoration and decorating objects such as boomerangs and shields, since the earliest known human occupation of Australia. Ochre (Fe-oxide pigment), is used for a variety of red, brown, orange and yellow colours, and other natural mineral pigments such as kaolinite are used for white colours. Today, as in the past, Aboriginal people choose particular pigments for their various characteristics including colour, consistency and ‘shimmer’.

This presentation will describe recent research into the first non-destructive elemental study of natural pigments on Aboriginal objects.


Sprigg plus - Shields

Sprigg Plus

7:30-8:30pm 5 April
Bookings essential
$38 (Museum Members receive 10% discount – click here to become a member today)

Following the completion of the Sprigg public lecture, the South Australian Museum offers you an exclusive opportunity to meet lecturer Rachel Popelka-Filcoff to further discuss topics raised at the lecture. Mingle with fellow Sprigg lovers and enjoy a stand-up, light dinner of delicious food and wine from the Museum’s catering team.


Makers at the Museum: carving a line

shield decoration

6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Thursday, 14 April 2016 
Cost: $45, bookings essential

Join contemporary printmakers Suzie Lockery and Simone Tippett as they guide you through the processes of linocutting, drawing inspiration from the powerful designs on Aboriginal shields. 

After a guided tour of the exhibition, participants will be encouraged to reflect upon the variety of symbolic line, form and mark-making that is represented on many Aboriginal shields and to consider creating their own personal shield design. Once the design has been carved into the lino block, the printing fun begins and participants will be shown how to ink up and print their linocut both by hand and using a press. Linocutting is a flexible printmaking medium that can easily be continued in the studio or at home.


Punu carving and culture 

Adnyamathanha and Pitjantjatjara man Patrick Hikardi Ferguson
Tuesday 26 - Friday 29 April  11am-12pm (60 min duration)
Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery, level 1 
Suited ages:  9 + years
Cost $10 per child, booking essential 
Patrick is keeping his culture alive using traditional punu carving techniques and ancient tools to teach younger generations. He is a very determined artist, driven by respect for his ancestors and his own ongoing connection to the land.
Patrick will lead participants through the Museum’s Australian Aboriginal Cultures gallery and showcase the different carving techniques on display, before running a hands-on workshop. Children will have an opportunity to observe Patrick’s contemporary shield making techniques up close, as well as leaving their mark on a new shield, which will be on display at the Museum throughout the school holiday period.

Shields: design and identity

Wakaldi shield
Tuesday 26 April – Friday 29 April
10am – 2pm
Museum main foyer
Drop-in session
Recommended for ages 5-12

The designs on shields can tell us a lot about the shield maker, the shield bearer and their people. Come and make a shield of your own and decorate it to tell your own stories! Children will be guided through the steps of making and decorating a simple cardboard shield, inspired by the Museum’s exhibition Shields: power and protection in Aboriginal Australia.


Kaurna language session with Jack Buckskin

Jack Buckskin teaches Kaurna language
Thursday 28 April    10:30 - 11:15 or 11:30 - 12:15
Friday 29 April           10:30 - 11:15 or 11:30 - 12:15
Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery, ground floor, special exhibition space Suited ages: 6+ years
Cost: Free - booking essential

Join Shields exhibition ambassador and Kaurna man Jack Buckskin to discover the language of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains. This interactive session will introduce children to Aboriginal songs, stories and language.


Nightlab, curated by Rebecca Sullivan

Night Lab 

6:00pm to 10:00pm

Friday, 6 May 2016
Suited ages: 18+
Cost: $35 / $25 Museum Members, bookings essential

As part of Tasting Australia, you’re invited to indulge in a little late night learning with a visit to the South Australian Museum after dark! Discover the links between what we eat and the environment we live in, from the geology of our wine regions to bush foods that reflect South Australia's incredible biodiversity. Night Lab is the delicious combination of science, curiosity, culture and great food.


Shields lunchtime talk with Karl Winda Telfer

Karl Telfer 

Thursday 12 May, 2:30pm 

Pacific Cultures Gallery 

Free, bookings essential


In the lead-up to the Shields exhibition, Kaurna man and senior custodian of ceremony Karl Telfer led a special project to create a new Kaurna shield. Karl worked with young Aboriginal men to create a powerful new shield, informed and inspired by traditional practice.

Join Karl as he speaks with the Museum’s Head of Anthropology, Dr John Carty, about the deep significance of shields in Kaurna culture and his fight for recognition of the Wokali shield.

 About Karl Winda Telfer

Karl is a Kaurna man from the Adelaide Plains regions with strong family ties to Nharrunga country on the Yorke Peninsula.He has been involved in Aboriginal cultural and spiritual renewal all his life, coming from a family of strong cultural and political activity. Over many years Karl has collaborated with artists, landscape architects and architects on major public space art and design projects. Karl founded the PAITYA dance group in 1996 which has toured internationally. Karl brings many people together through ways of understanding the spirit of humanity.