Art Gallery Visit for Australian Literature Students 2018

Thank you all for your keen participation and all your answers to questions as we were going around the Australian sections of the NSW Art Gallery. I hope you all got a sense of how important it is to get a sweeping picture of the development of Australian painting from its Aboriginal origins through to early Colonialism and then into Modernism. This sweeping picture can really support your understanding of what is going on in Australian Literature both in terms of the ideas and in terms of the experiment with forms in each of the major periods of Oz Lit.

For me the high point of our tour was also the end point, and that was Trevor Nickolls’ The Garden of Eden which so powerfully reiterated (but with new implications) Margaret Preston’s The Garden of Eden. Preston was of course challenging the horrific xenophobia in Australia which didn’t even want to see Aboriginal people as citizens of their own country:


As you know this painting was refused entry into the Sydney Blake Prize because it was too controversial for the 1950s.

So today we have Trevor Nickolls’ version of the same subject but with a different, even more controversial slant. But is it more controversial? Have things changed in Australia since the 1950s? Has Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance with its story about Jak Tar’s marriage to Binyan created a more acceptant society? At all events here is Nickoll’s powerful image:


Here too are two of the audio lectures that happened yesterday. The other two are taking some time to upload (and will be uploaded!) but I am sure you will get what you need from these two for now. Please be aware also that many of the works that we looked at yesterday are available on-line in the NSW Art Gallery on-line Collection database. Go here to find these:

So what are the blog questions in relation to the Art Gallery visit. This is simple. 

1/ Give a brief account of the impact of the Art Gallery visit on your understanding. Say especially how the visit has given you a context for understanding the concerns of Australian writers.

2/ Which art work did you find most meaningful and/or enjoyable? Give a verbal description of the work (include a visual image if you can). You can approach this task either as a CRITICAL or a CREATIVE blog. You can create an Ekphrastic poem or prose piece or you can give an analytical description. What is Ekphrastic??? Go here to find out: (you will find out a whole lot more information if you google “Ekphrastic” 🙂

3/ Please remember you are always permitted to create your own blog topic. That is part of the deal: this is your creative space where you can express yourself in whatever way you want as long as it connects in some way to what we have been doing in class….. Enjoy!

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