Describe the impact on you of ONE of the paintings viewed on our tour- talk about how it has opened up your understanding of the key issues in the period we are studying!
The trip to the Art Galley was more enlightening and intriguing than I imagined. As we walked through the different rooms with our friendly lecturer-turned-tourguide, the painting Antipodean Head II by Albert Tucker caught my attention. This usually would not be the type of painting I would usually be drawn to just because it is not the style I would see and straight away admire. Instead, I had to really think and analyse before I could completely appreciate it; actions that made the painting somewhat more valuable in my untrained eyes.
The painting you see on the left is the aforementioned unconventional masterpiece that peaked my interest. At first glance, I saw only what appeared to be a piece of bark; distinctly Australian due to the strange markings that are associated with Australian flora. Might I add that although you cannot see it in the digital image, the textures used by Tucker truly made this look like a part of the natural environment due to the layering of materials. As I continued to look (trying to make sense of it by tilting my head, trying to look at it upside-down and twisting into a number of strange positions resembling those of an amateur acrobat), I realised that the answer was (quite literally) staring me in the face. I finally saw the face of a man within the markings.
Finally the true meaning of the painting became clear to me. This was a reflection on the identity of Aboriginal peoples through the connection with their land and environment. The man being created out of the bark of Australian flora is not only a symbol, but a true representation of what it means to be an Indigenous person in Australia. This relates to the ideas mentioned in my previous posts about connection and the impact that dispossession has had on the identity of individuals and communities. Being painted in the 1960’s, this particular work would be under the influence of the Stolen Generations showing that it was not only original settlement that destroyed identity, but it was still continuing then and, in many ways, it still is today. This really deepened my understanding of the importance of the spiritual connection to the environment Aboriginal people had and continue to have. Seeing this as a visual representation made me feel this in a vastly different way to which I have interpreted it through reading; strangely, this was a much more personal and touching experience. Whatever the reason for this, it is clear that Albert Tucker’s painting gives a deep insight into the spirituality and identity of Aboriginal Australians.The emotion demonstrated has shaped my understanding to a great extent acheiving the ability to convey and the meaning behind the man hidden in the bark.