Australians All Let Us Rejoice.... the first line of our National Anthem.
Today, January 26, is Australia Day, and we celebrate our nationhood..
The lovely Golden Wattle is our National Floral Emblem...
Australian artist Sir William Dargie painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth in 1954, to mark her first Royal Tour to Australia ...
and her gift from Australia was the Wattle Brooch of yellow diamonds:
Her Majesty has worn it on many subsequent tours, usually with a sunny yellow ensemble, a tribute to our Australian sunshine and wattle.
|Albert Namatjira, Google Images|
Albert Namatjira (1902-59), the first Australian indigenous artist to achieve national recognition, met the Queen during the '54 tour.
Namatjira's vivid watercolour landscapes of Central Australia caused great excitement when first exhibited during the 1940s, and by the 50s, prints of his work hung on the walls of many Australian homes (including my own).
Later, as happens, his work went out of fashion (it was essentially figurative) but these days there is a renewed appreciation of his painting and his ability to capture the heart and soul of the red centre of Australia.
Margaret Preston (1875-1963) was a modernist artist with an interest in the development of a national style for Australian art.
|Margaret Preston Self Portrait 1930. Google images.|
She sought to blend the motifs and colouration she observed in the art produced by indigenous Aboriginal Australians, with a modern aesthetic with influences of print-making and cubism.
Some interesting work resulted:
Flying over the Shoalhaven River, 1942.
A landscape with a hint of the aerial perspective frequently seen in indigenous Central Desert art, and areas of scattered dotting, another aboriginal motif, and of course the ochre colour. But it is not a copy of anything produced by the indigenous community, and neither is it conventional European Modernism of its time.
Margaret Preston was inventing her own pictorial language.
The Brown Pot, 1940, features tough, native banksia flowers,
painted in 'native' dots and dashes and ochre colours.
There are elements of cubism in this work.
Preston was trying to infiltrate Aboriginal art into the domestic and fine arts of the era.
Aboriginal Still Life, 1940, features two Rainforest Shields, an indigenous painting genre from North Queensland.
Ultimately, Preston's brave attempt to forge a national style for Australian art came to nothing. The designs meant nothing to the Aboriginal people, because to them they were meaningless oddments and references.
The paintings, attractive and of museum quality, have found a place in the history of art but they are a curiousity of their era.
Like the Government's policy at that time, Assimilation of the indigenous into the European community, it simply did not work and the nation has moved on.
Australia is now multi-cultural, and we celebrate our differences - in art as well as everything else.
and have a Wonderful Weekend!