Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Train Reading - introducing Gammage's The Biggest Estate on Earth

This print by the convict artist Joseph Lycett shows a scene near Newcastle. It has that somewhat European feel of many early Australian painters.

Australian art historian Bernard Smith and others have argued that the early European settlers had to learn to see the light and the country, that initially they imposed European norms on the new land. I'm sure that's true to some degree. But what if they were right and modern Australian views of light and landscape wrong, a creation of the changes wrought since European settlement? What if current views of the Australian landscape, views that influence politics and drive the environmental movement, were just plain wrong?

I mention this now to introduce my current train reading, Bill Gammage's The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia.  It's a fascinating book.


Winton Bates said...

Jim, when I went to central Australia for the first time I was amazed that the landscape looked just as in Albert Namatjira's paintings.

I am not sure why I was amazed. Perhaps I was expecting the colours in the landscape to be more like in the eastern part of Australia..

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Winton. Sorry for the slow response. I have been in Armidale. Interested in your reactions to to the colours. They are very different.