I thought it was time to share some of the drawings that I have been working on for my ongoing series about shameful moments in Australian history. Most of you probably know I’m Australian (although I don’t live there right now). Since I have moved away I have become more interested in some of the murky aspects of my countries past. I think that the history of Australia, particularly around colonialism holds a huge fascination to me as I am very much a child of the colonies. Born in Australia to a recently emigrated English mother and Caribbean father. Both who told me wondrous stories about their home countries.
In school we were taught all about the glory of Australia, the lucky country. It’s golden opportunities and history since “discovery”. However, I remember one day at high school in an Australian studies class the teacher mentioned the aboriginal massacres. I was quite horrified, I was a teen and had never heard about this before, what? This stuck with me and I researched some of these horrific incidents. I was shocked and disappointed this wasn’t the country I knew, that I had been taught about. I realised there was a big hole in the way Australian history is taught, at least in the schools I was at. I began to notice and remember things like the segregated pub we had once stopped at in outback SA. So last year I decided it was about time to draw some of these holes. I decided to start with the convincing ground massacre, I think the name “convincing ground” really focused me to try and depict the moment just before the whalers tried to “convince” the Gunditjmara people that the whale was theirs.
I had just finished the convincing ground drawing when I was invited to submit a piece for the SLWA dinner party show. The brief was to make a table setting about any woman in history you think may have been overlooked. I knew I wanted to make mine about an Australian indigenous woman I decided upon Truganini for many reasons (see my piece here).
Another drawing I have made for this series is about the extinction of the Thylacine and one about the hanging of Elizabeth Woolcock. All of which are truly shameful moments in Australian history. This is a series I plan not to rush. As another story takes my imagination or I find another hole I want to explore, I will work on it. There may be long breaks between drawings, but that’s fine, I have a lot of other ideas I want to get out there too.
Lately I have been thinking maybe I might even include some more recent shameful moments like Australia’s current treatment of Asylum seekers but for now I sticking to the historical moments.