The National Gallery of Australia celebrated Canberra’s 2018 Reconciliation Day public holiday with various events. A panel discussion about Aboriginal art in Australia featured federal Shadow Minister for Human Services & Shadow Minister for Preventing Family Violence, the Hon Linda Burney; Dr Greg Lehman, research fellow from the University of Tasmania; and highly-respected local Indigenous woman, Matilda House and her son, Paul House. The exhibition currently at the NGA, The National Picture: the Art of Tasmania’s Black War depicts two under-examined figures in Australian history: colonial artist and free settler, Benjamin Duterrau (who came to Australia in 1832), and the ‘Conciliator’ George Augustus Robinson. Co-curated by Professor Lehman, the ANU’s Dr Tim Bonyhady and NGA senior curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Franchesca Cubillo, the exhibition examines the work of colonial artists from the declaration of martial law in Van Diemen’s Land in 1828 and the beginnings of George Augustus Robinson’s ill-fated ‘Friendly Mission’, through to Benjamin Duterrau’s death in 1851.
With George Augustus Robinson, Benjamin Duterrau depicted Aboriginal people in his work, and sought to promote peace between white settlers and Tasmanian Indigenous people. The exhibition features a large group of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and objects from public and private collections including the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston, the British Museum and the State Library of New South Wales. The exhibition runs until 29 July. https://nga.gov.au/nationalpicture/