The Landscape is never Innocent – (After Mannalargenna)
2018, Highly Commended
oil and ripolin
Motivated by revisionist histories currently at play in the global media, I made this painting to re-examine a dark period of Australia’s history, the so called Black War in Tasmania between 1829 and 1833. The painting recognises the fight of Aboriginal Tasmanians, the Palawa Nation, the traditional owners of the land, and the genocide suffered by their people during that time.
This painting is a homage to Mannalargenna, an elder of the Palawa Nation and leader of the Aboriginal resistance during the Black War. Explorer and grazier John Batman set out on expeditions throughout Tasmania tracking and killing Aboriginal people in exchange for government land grants. Mannalargenna lead the Palawa resistance but was later betrayed by George Augustus Robinson “protector of Aboriginals” and exiled to Flinder’s Island.
Since moving from Sydney to France, I have discovered the extent to which the history of Australia’s First Nations People post European settlement has been erased from the collective memory and replaced by a European vision of fecund pastoral landscapes.
To me, there is a painfully clear disparity between the written history of Aboriginal Australia and actual events. Looking back at Australia from my adopted home in Europe, I see no meaningful reconciliation.