Late Colonialism in Australian Literature and Art

What a feast of writers and artists we have been digesting in this last week (Page references are to the Macquarie Pen Anthology of Australian Literature):

Ada Cambridge with her wonderfully strident defiance of being a simpering woman subject to male domination. Defying all stereotypes she speaks to her lover: “I may some day love a better man…. And then we must be free to kiss and part” (164). No wonder she was seen as rebellious in her day!

Then we looked at the Über-rebellious Irish Ned Kelly who certainly could string words together when he wanted to make a point about those for whom he had a particular hate (those representatives of the British legal system): “the big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…” (224) and much more!

Then there was Dame Mary Gilmore, one of the few in this period who had a passionate regard for our Indigenous people and a real sense of what we as a community have lost by not taking care of them. Her poem “Australia” is a magnificent tribute to the ancient value of this people (predating all the most ancient civilizations) and containing within their culture the seeds of the beginning of language and poetry:

There was great beauty in the names her people called her,

Shaping to patterns of sound the form of their words;

They wove to measure of speech the cry of the bird,

And the voices that rose from the reeds of the cowal*.

(*Aboriginal word for small, tree-grown swampy depression)

Woman-on-Currency-Note-Australia-10-Dollar-Dame-Mary-Gilmore

So in their traditions and culture they transformed and transmitted the beautiful voices of nature into song, into language.

We looked also at Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and Barbara Baynton, those authors who, in various ways, transformed the experience of Australian settlers into story and song.

And all this was done in the context of our increasing awareness of the iconic art of Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Fred McCubbin, Julian Ashton and others…. what a treat!

Blog Topics for Week 6

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT YOU MUST DO AT LEAST ONE PEER REVIEW EACH WEEK AND YOU NOW HAVE THE LIBERTY TO ROAM ACROSS ALL THE LITERATURE UNITS TO PICK AND CHOSE PEOPLE TO REVIEW.

  1. “And then we must be free to kiss and part”. Write a short letter or poem that proclaims the kind of personal freedom that Ada Cambridge proposes in this line.

2. Write a brief description of this painting of Ned Kelly. What do you think it is saying about Ned Kelly’s status in the 20th CenturySaint Ned

3. Write a short tribute to Dame Mary Gilmore drawing on any one of her poems (in the Pen Anthology 256-259) to show how important her ideas are to Australians.

4. Find out who the figure behind Dame Mary Gilmore is on the $10 note. What is the artistic significance of this other figure?

5. Henry Lawson or Banjo Paterson? Explain briefly your understanding of why these two authors were so different in their views of the Australian experience.

” They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone/ That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown”(263)

“There was movement at the station , for the word had passed around…” (246)

6. Create your own topic, basing it around any one of the authors or painters looked at in the Late Colonial section of the unit and linking it to your own personal experience.

Enjoy!

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