Michael McWilliams

White Invaders, 2014

acrylic on linen

170 x 180

From the artist

Although we often choose to ignore the conflict between the indigenous inhabitants of Tasmania and the first white colonialists, the effects and results on the people and the land were enormous. Aboriginal people managed the land using fire, skillfully burning undergrowth and grasses to encourage regeneration. By taking into account the life cycles of native plants, they ensured a plentiful supply of wildlife and plant foods throughout the year. European settlers' approach was vastly different. They attempted to convert the newly invaded foreign land into a little Britain, introducing domesticated animals and exotic plants, building fences and clearing land. Aboriginal populations were pushed out and eventually expelled from their ancestral homes. Unlike the Aborigines, we as white settlers do not harmonise and blend into the landscape – we are much like the white cows in this painting, obvious, demanding attention and perhaps a little unsure of what the Australian landscape should look like.

Artist background

Born Launceston 1956, lives and works in Perth Tasmania. Exhibiting since the 1990s. Finalist in Wynne Prize 2008. Winner of Tasmanian Art Awards 1994, City of Burnie Art Prize 2000, Glover Prize 2004, Waterhouse Natural Art History Prize 2005 & 2008. Winner of People's Choice Award at the Glover Prize 2014 & 2012 & Bay Of Fires Art Prize 2012. Commissioned by Ten Days on the Island 2009 & 2011.

Represented by Handmark Gallery, Hobart/Evandale; Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne; & Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane