NO BLOOD STAINED THE WATTLE
This series uses the violent conflicts and massacres of Tasmania's colonisation to reflect on the mythical telling of Australian colonial history.
Tasmania, Australia, was occupied for an estimated 40,000 years by the Tasmanian Aborigines. This exclusive habitation of the land came to a conclusion with the British invasion in 1803 when their societies were irrevocably shattered by the conflicts of the frontiers. These conflicts and the eventual Black War which ensued was a small guerrilla war but of massive proportions for both sides of the conflict with the death per capita for Aboriginals and First Settlers alike higher than in any other war in the history of Australia (even those fought abroad).
The work focuses on the massacre sites throughout Tasmania to examine the notion of deliberate historical forgetting. The images acknowledge the violence which occurred and uses portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginals whose bloodlines stretch back to the time of the conflict, to reflect on memory, loss and national silencing. The series considers how Australia’s collective national identity has been influenced and informed by a manipulated version of history.
The physical photographic films are painted with ochre and then scratched and manipulated with various tools found in Tasmania, to uncover diverse truths and perspectives of the past.
Through the overlaying of historical paintings, and scratching and re-working this series reflects the distortion and silencing of the past, and by the constant degradation of the painted ochre on the surface of the film, which is continually changing and evolving, reflects our own evolving understanding of history.
Published by The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/jun/22/no-blood-stained-the-wattle-a-picture-essay