Give a short description of one of the Australian paintings currently hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW and explore the ways in which it illuminates at least one literary theme and/or method explored in Australian Literature studied this semester.
One of artworks that stood out to me at the NSW Art Gallery this week was Russell Drysdale’s 1953 work “A group of Aborigines” as I believe it has an underlying message regarding on how modern day Australia was established as well as highlighting the issue of segregation of cultures; which we have explored during the course of Australian Literature. The artwork consists of a group of 6 Indigenous Australians standing together as a group dressed in workmen like clothes and bare feet; painted in natural earth tones of colour. The clothing is symbolic as it is representing that the indigenous were slowly being forced into Australian society but due to the lack of shoes it indicates that they are still able to hold onto their culture. This lack of shoes is also shown in That Deadman Dance with Bobby, which I believe is symbolic of the indigenous still being connected to their culture as in the Dreaming the earth is always portrayed as a mother figure to the Indigenous.
The colour choices of this work does show also that Drysdale was trying to incorporate both his own culture with the indigenous in a way that almost conveys the wider Australian society being united under one identity. This idea of a single united culture of Australia was also portrayed very early on in That Deadman Dance by Bobby but it wasn’t as strong portrayed as in “A group of Aborigines” but Bobby does hint at a similar idea more of a brotherhood between cultures. This can be seen in the relationship between Bobby and Doctor Cross.
Drysdale’s other works such as “Station boys” 1953 and “Shopping Day” 1953 both do explore similar ideas but I personally believe that the work “Group of Aborigines” holds a stronger message in regarding the relationship between cultures and how there is an underlying prejudice towards both cultures. The artist is able to convey the issue very well even though it is addressed subtly.
Picture of the work can be seen at http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/44.2003/