Dark Valley, Van Diemen's Land

Gough, Julie (2008) Dark Valley, Van Diemen's Land. [Artefact]

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Abstract

Dark Valley, Van Diemen's Land (the work at left in the photograph) refers to my maternal Tasmanian Aboriginal family and my paternal Scottish family that both worked in, and in Tasmania owned, coal mines. It is a work presented in the installation titled Aftermath. This was an installation and conglomerate of new mixed-media works that reflected on the legacies of colonial contact. Formed from indoor objects merged with materials from forests, beaches and underground, these works pursue remnant, codified stories of cross cultural encounter from early 1800s Van Diemen's Land. The works in Aftermath present Tasmanian places and their stories as contested and suppressed. 'Sites' are reproduced as GPS coordinates spelling out places of kidnap by black crow shells impressed in cuttlefish, or through the material evidence of places significant to Aboriginal presence or absence. Aftermath reveals our history and stories as a triad, activated in conjunction with places and their objects to mark the histories within us as recallable and conveyable.

These works gather together as trace evidence of what came before, what happened here. My aim is to offer for fresh reconsideration aspects of cryptic or unresolved histories that bring us to this point of dim memory. These objects and the repetitive actions that created them aim to trigger a rhythmic form of remembering of this island’s colonial-contact inheritance.

The purpose of an exhibition facilitates and quickens my ongoing research of difficult histories. None of the works present finite or fully comprehended stories, instead they offer me a means to register my own siting at this moment in the search, the unravelling and slow comprehension of colonial contact. Tea-tree, coals and shells of the outdoor-world are placed in this exhibition amidst indoor furnishings to provide a key or coda to deciphering our furtive histories in the real. Our shared pasts linger as accessibly amidst hills and along old roadways of this island as in the texts of the library and archive.

Research Statement

Research Background Following an invitation by the Gallery Director to exhibit in 2008 I completed a body of seven stand-alone pieces that would also operate as a single installation in the space. The exhibition reflected on the legacies of colonial contact in Australia. The works, created from objects found indoors merged with materials from forests, beaches and underground, recollected remnant, codified stories of cross-cultural encounter from early 1800s Van Diemen's Land.
Research Contribution A primary contribution of Aftermath to Australian research was it tested the proposition that visual art can successfully present and transmit complex historical events in another medium than the usual western text based format at a site far distant from the sites of the original events depicted. The exhibition was held during the busiest month for the arts annually in Darwin and viewed by a range of people diverse in culture and age.
Research Significance The significance of the research was that the works tested if and to what extent colonial events could be conveyed in both format and location far different than originally occurred and conceived. The key area of research for these often large scale 3 dimensional works is the exploration of public encounter with history transformed into non or reduced text based pieces. Two of the works in Aftermath were subsequently acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Item ID: 19931
Item Type: Artefact
Keywords: indigenous, aboriginal, Australia, mixed-media, cross-cultural, colonisation, contemporary, exhibition
Additional Information:

Exhibited at Gallery 2 24 Hour Art, Vimy Lane, Parap, Darwin. 1 August to 6 September, 2008.

Media of Output: Tasmanian coal on nylon on antlers on Tasmanian oak, approx.120 x 100 x 30 cm.
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Funders: Visual Arts and Crafts Board Fellowship from the Australia Council of the Arts
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2012 22:40
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190502 Fine Arts (incl Sculpture and Painting) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 100%
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