National Gallery of Victoria Education Resource

Gordon Bennett


Education
Gordon Bennett

4

Borrowed images and styles

Gordon Bennett does not describe himself as an ‘appropriation artist’. But this approach is central to the way many people describe and analyse his work. ‘Appropriation art’ is an established postmodernist strategy defined as:

The direct duplication, copying or incorporation of an image (painting, photography, etc) by another artist who represents it in a different context, thus completely altering its meaning and questioning notions of originality and authenticity.1

Often describing his own practice of borrowing images as ‘quoting’, Bennett re-contextualises existing images to challenge the viewer to question and see alternative perspectives. He draws on and samples from many artists and traditions to create a new language and a new way of reading these images. Perhaps a re-writing of history?

Bennett is interested in the way language and images construct identity and history, and the way this language controls and creates meaning. Appropriation for Bennett is a tool that enables him to open up and re-define stereotypes and bias. Fundamentally, he deconstructs history to question the ‘truth’ of the past.

 
 

Sampling and quoting – Claiming a voice

Possession Island

Gordon Bennett, Possession Island 1991

Gordon Bennett
born Australia 1955
Possession Island 1991
oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas
(a–b) 162.0 x 260.0 cm (overall)
Museum of Sydney on the site of first Government House, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.
Purchased with funds from the Foundation for the Historic Houses Trust, Museum of Sydney Appeal, 2007
© Courtesy of the artist
Photography: Xavier Lavictoire

Samuel Calvert and John Gilfillan, 1865

Samuel Calvert, engraver
English 1828–1913
John Gilfillan (after)
English 1793–1864
Captain Cook taking possession of the Australian continent on behalf of the British Crown AD 1770
wood engraving from the Illustrated Melbourne Post, December 25, 1865
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

Jackson Pollock, Blue poles 1952

Jackson Pollock
American 1912–1956
Blue poles 1952
also known as Number 11, 1952
oil, enamel, aluminium paint, glass on canvas
212.1 x 488.9 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 1973
© Jackson Pollock, 1952/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

I began to use illustrations out of old social studies and history textbooks by way of critical intervention in the seamless flow of images that I plainly saw was designed to reinforce the popular myths and ‘common sense’ perspective of an Australian colonial identity and ‘pop’ history. I had in mind to create fields of disturbance which would necessitate re-reading the image, and the mythology. Gordon Bennett 2

At art college Bennett discovered how Australian identity was built on a subjective ‘writing’ of history. He found this liberating. As one of the dispossessed within this biased history, he claims that his only tool to combat this bias is the art of mimicry. He uses familiar and recognisable images that are part of an Australian consciousness to explore and question the meaning of these images. Ian McLean makes parallels between the ‘mimicry’ in Bennett’s work and the well-known myth of Echo.3

Hera, wife of Zeus, condemned Echo with the punishment of no voice. She could only echo or mimic the voices of others. This loss of identity caused her disappearance. Unable to express herself, she was defeated by the voices of others. This story can help explain Bennett's use of existing images, including other artworks. Due to his Eurocentric education and upbringing, Bennett feels he has no ‘voice’, he therefore ‘quotes’ and ‘samples’. But unlike Echo Bennett is empowered by echoing the voice of the past. This enables a new discourse about history to emerge.

One of the most heroic and well-known images of Australia’s past is Captain Cook landing in Botany Bay in 1770. This event was re-enacted in many pageants and dramatisations during Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988, as a way of celebrating 200 years of Australian history. It is interesting to note that this same year was declared a period of mourning by Aboriginal people. The impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people and culture from this point was devastating.

It is no accident that Bennett uses this event to question the way history is written and interpreted. Samuel Calvert’s engraving, Captain Cook taking possession of the Australian continent on behalf of the British Crown AD 1770, became the starting point for Bennett’s exploration. He quotes directly from this image, which is in fact a copy of a copy, as Samuel Calvert copied this image of Captain Cook landing in Botany Bay from a previous image by Gilfillan, which is now lost. It is appropriation of an image that has already been copied with an image that has become central in the pysche of an Australian history. It demonstrates Bennett’s understanding of the power of this image.

In Possession Island, 1991, Bennett meticulously photocopies and enlarges Calvert’s image so that it can be projected, cropped and copied onto the canvas. Calvert’s image becomes one of the layers of the painting. It is reproduced in flat, bold and black line work. Bennett lodges this image in layers of dots and slashes of red and yellow paint that refer to other artists and images. These act as ‘disturbances’. They physically prevent the viewer from seeing the image clearly, but psychologically encourage the viewer to delve into the image more deeply and question:

Where did these images come from that they’re relating back to in their minds in order to stage this re- enactment? It’s like images become part of the Australian unconscious. They’re buried, and this is a way of bringing them back into memory, but remembered in a different way from the way that I was taught, looking at them from a different angle and looking at how they work, where they came from initially, and how these images still support contemporary stereotypes, etc. Gordon Bennett 4

The only clearly defined part of Possession Island is the black skinned male figure in the centre. Bennett establishes him as the focal point. He is not disturbed by slashes of paint, but painted carefully and outlined by the precise grid behind him. Once again the letters A B C D feature as a potent symbol and complete the grid. The figure is dressed in tattered western clothing. Amidst the chaos and confusion of dots and slashes of colour he remains imprisoned by the grid, reduced to servitude. Reflecting the colours of the Aboriginal flag, splashes and drips of red, yellow and black paint across the surface of the painting quote the distinctive style of Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), which Bennett began to sample in 1990. Jackson Pollock is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His status as an artist has been elevated to hero with his contribution to Action Painting. Pollock was influenced by Navaho sand paintings, which were created on the ground. Inspired, Pollock removed the canvas from the easel and worked with it flat on the floor, using movement and gesture to flick and drip paint onto the canvas.

Quite apart from Pollock’s probable genuine interest in Navaho ground painting, we have the myth of the sophisticated and civilised ‘white’ artist who discovers something of value in the art of ‘primitive’ indigenes and brings it back to enrich the lives and cultivated sensibilities of ‘real’ artists and ‘ART’. Gordon Bennett 5

Bennett intentionally fuses this iconic style of ‘Western’ painting with the famous Aboriginal white dot painting of the Western Desert, reproducing the mix in Possession Island. Thousands of dots fill the canvas. The effect is that they dissolve into a mass of colour, dots and slashes of paint . The viewer is made to step back and allow the eyes to form the images. This is similar to the way aPointillist painting can only be seen effectively from a distance to bring the image into focus. Looking at the image from different viewpoints helps us to discover different perspectives.

There’s a sense of layering and historical layering as being a text; parts of it can be re- interpreted and the citation is working in a similar way to writing where you cite another author’s point of view. So if I use Pollock drips or a pastiche of Pollock, I’m referring to him and the work then takes on board some of the meaning of how his work was interpreted and his historical position. Gordon Bennett 6

Layering and re-defining – Creating new language

Gordon Bennett, Home décor (Algebra) Ocean 1998

Gordon Bennett
born Australia 1955
Home décor (Algebra) Ocean 1998
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
182.5 x 365.0 cm
Private collection, Melbourne
© Courtesy of the artist
Photography: Kenneth Pleban

Gordon Bennett, Notes to Basquiat (Jackson Pollock and his other), 2001

Gordon Bennett
born Australia 1955
Notes to Basquiat (Jackson Pollock and his other) 2001
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
152.0 x 304.0 cm
Private Collection, Adelaide
© Courtesy of the artist
Photography: John O’Brien

Margaret Preston, Noah's Ark 1950

Margaret Preston
Australia 1875–1963, lived in Europe 1904–07, 1912–19
Noah’s Ark 1950
colour stencil, gouache on thin black card with gouache hand colouring
46.0 x 54.0 cm (image); 51.0 x 62.8 cm (sheet)
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Gift of Mr W.G. Preston the artist's widower, 1963
© Margaret Preston/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

Margaret Preston, Australian legend, number 5: End of the love story, Curing and flight of love c. 1957

Margaret Preston
Australia 1875–1963, lived in Europe 1904–07, 1912–19
Australian legend, number 5: End of the love story, Curing and flight of love c. 1957
colour woodcut on tan laid Japanese paper
29.6 x 29.1 cm (blockmark); 36.8 x 32.2 cm (sheet)
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Gift of Mr W.G. Preston the artist's widower, 1963
© Margaret Preston/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

Within the Home décor series Gordon Bennett escalates the sampling and quoting of other artists and works to develop a pastiche. Home Décor (Algebra) Ocean, 1998 synthesises the work of Piet Mondrian(1872–1944), Margaret Preston (1875–1963) and later in the series, Jean–Michel Basquiat(1960–1988) among others. Bennett also includes copies and samples of his own work, such as Possession Island and Big Romantic painting (The Apotheosis of Captain Cook) 1993, with other found images. These images are fused and overlapped in a dynamic composition underpinned by Mondrian-style grids. Every object is carefully and clearly painted, yet the images conceptually blur together as they intersect and interlace through the grid, across the canvas.

He is taking the micky  out of the linear notion of history – he has frayed, teased and textured that linear notion. Margo Neale 7

Bennett compels the viewer to engage with and question the values and ideas of the artists he has appropriated. Mondrian, a Dutch De Stijl artist and a Theosophist, used art to search ‘empirical’ truths and their source. Theosophy means ‘god wisdom’, the belief that everything living or dead is put together from basic blocks that lead towards consciousness.

I construct lines and colour combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness. Nature … inspires me, puts me, as with any painter, in an emotional state so that an urge comes about to make something, but I want to come as close as possible to the truth and abstract everything from that, until I reach the foundation (still just an external foundation!) of things… Piet Mondrian 8

For Mondrian the grid became the essence of all forms. Bennett’s grid formations seem to imprison the figures within the canvas. However, he offers more than one interpretation of the grid’s use, which is indicated by the sampling of works by Australian artist Margaret Preston . Preston envisioned the creation of an ‘Australian’ aesthetic. She was one of the first Australian artists to recognise the spiritual significance of Aboriginal art and the land. She attempted to create works that reflected a sense of national identity by incorporating Aboriginal motifs and colours in her work. Some of Preston’s appropriations however, demeaned and trivialised the way Aborigines were depicted and understood. Many Indigenous Australians saw this appropriation as further evidence of a justification of colonisation and a Eurocentric interpretation of Aboriginal culture.

Bennett confronts and questions the appropriateness of this borrowing. Physically, the kitschAboriginal motifs copied from Preston are trapped. The representation of Aborigines has been reduced to caricature. Bennett has layered these two distinctly different artists with his own work – work previously appropriated from yet another context. Mondrian cages the figures, Preston objectifies the figures; Bennett accommodates both to grasp the intangible and dissect these limited interpretations and stereotypes. He is in fact attempting to construct a new language.

Re-mixing and exchanging – A global perspective

The Notes to Basquiat series takes appropriation to yet another level within Bennett’s art practice. Bennett not only uses Basquiat images, but begins to paint in his style. Jean–Michel Basquiat, crowned a ‘black urban’ artist, was well known for his spontaneous and gestural paintings, which reflect the artist’s involvement in the graffiti culture of the United States. In a letter written to Basquiat after his death, Bennett writes:

To some, writing a letter to a person post humously may seem tacky and an attempt to gain some kind of attention, even ‘steal’ your ‘crown’. That is not my intention, I have my own experiences of being crowned in Australia, as an ‘Urban Aboriginal’ artist – underscored as that title is by racism and ‘primitivism’ – and I do not wear it well. My intention is in keeping with the integrity of my work in which appropriation and citation, sampling and remixing are an integral part, as are attempts to communicate a basic underlying humanity to the perception of ‘blackness’ in its philosophical and historical production within western cultural contexts. The works I have produced are ‘notes’, nothing more, to you and your work … Gordon Bennett 9

Comparisons between Basquiat and Bennett often focus on the artists’ similar backgrounds and experiences. Both artists have an affinity with Jazz, Rap and Hip Hop music. This influence is seen in the rhythmic movement of Bennett’s Notes to Basquiat series. Underlying Bennett’s admiration for Basquiat is the need to re- contextualise the issues that he has explored throughout his career as an artist. In Notes to Basquiat (Jackson Pollock and his other) 2001, Bennett confronts these issues within a global context.

This canvas is loosely divided into three parts. The left explodes with images of 9/11, the devastatingly unforgettable attacks in the United States, including New York. These images, forever forged in our minds, are boldly depicted in Basquiat’s graffiti- like style. Basquiat’s signature ‘crown’ hovers beneath a tag-like image of fire. This image also translates to mean: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  It is uttered by all good Muslims before a good deed. Buildings and planes collide. The central image is a reworking of an earlier painting completed at art college, The persistence of language, 1987, painted in the style of Basquiat. The persistence of language references the way language controls and defines how we understand ourselves and our world. To the right of the canvas, Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 is clearly referenced.
This pastiche of style and image is like a D J (Disc Jockey) sampling and remixing different styles of music to create new expressions. Issues previously explored in an Australian context are now examined in an international context. Bennett uses 9/11 and its global impact three months after the event as the stage for his discourse on cultural identity. He depicts how pain transcends place and event to encompass a global consciousness. How ideas might be encountered from different places and events interest him. The inclusion of Pollock helps build these cross- connections.

It is no accident that Bennett uses Pollock’s Blue Poles: Number 11. The incorporation of Blue Poles calls to mind an era of great reform in Australian politics. The purchase of this artwork by the Whitlam Labor Government (1973–1975) was fraught with controversy. At the time the A$ 1.3 million purchase price was the highest ever paid for a piece of modern art within Australia and the U.S.  Most Australians were shocked and scandalised that public money was spent on something they neither appreciated nor understood. This purchase was indicative of a massive legislative reform program that had not been seen in Australian society for decades. The Whitlam Government abolished the last remnants of the White Australia policy, established diplomatic relations with China and advocated Aboriginal land rights, to name just a few of these changes. Bennett uses Blue Poles to recall this period of change. Pollock becomes a catalyst for transformation.

References

   
  1. Dictionary of Art and Artists, revised, expanded and updated edition, Thames and Hudson, 1994, p. 19
  2. Gordon Bennett, ‘The manifest toe’ in Ian McLean & Gordon Bennett, The Art of Gordon Bennett, Craftsman House, 1996, pp. 34– 35
  3. Gordon Bennett & Ian McLean, ‘Philosophy and painting: Gordon Bennett’s critical aesthetic’ in Ian McLean & Gordon Bennett, The Art of Gordon Bennett, Craftsman House, 1996, p. 83
  4. Gordon Bennett & Chris McAuliffe, ‘Interview with Gordon Bennett’ in Rex Bulter (Ed.) (2nd Edition), What is Appropriation? An Anthology of writings on Australian Art in the 1980s & 1990s, IMA Publishing, 2004, p. 273
  5. Gordon Bennett, ‘The manifest toe’, p. 45
  6. Gordon Bennett, ‘The manifest toe’, pp. 40– 41
  7. Gordon Bennett & Chris McAuliffe, ‘Interview with Gordon Bennett’, p. 274
  8. Rebecca Lancashire, ‘Blurring the lines of history’, in The Age, Monday 5 May 1997
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet_Mondrian
10. Gordon Bennett, ‘Notes to Basquiat’, in Gordon Bennett (exh. cat.), Sherman Galleries, Goodhope, 5 Nov– 4 Dec, 1999.
11. Ian McLean, ‘Conspiracy theory: Pollock, Basquiat, Bennett’, in www.shermangalleries.com.au/artists_exhib/artists/bennett2/essay.html accessed 14/08/07, Sherman Galleries , p. 2
Aboriginal deaths in custody
A major issue that came to the fore in the 1980s due to the large numbers of Indigenous Australians dying while in prison. It was perceived that these deaths directly or indirectly involved police authorities. A Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody was established in 1987 to investigate these serious concerns. This commission also investigated the standard of care of Indigenous Australians whilst in custody.
Abstract Expressionism
A style of painting generally associated with a group of artists who worked in New York in the late 1950s. These artists used colour and paint expressively in their work to convey feelings and moods. Their paintings are characterised by shallow pictorial space and all over composition. Abstract Expressionist paintings are generally non- representational, but some include figurative elements.
Action Painting
A style of painting developed and used by Abstract Expressionist artists in New York in the 1940s, in which movement and gesture are used to create strokes and marks that suggest energy and emotion.
Alter ego
In psychology, it is the second self, or a person with a second personality.
Anglo–Celtic
A collective term that describes English, Irish and Scottish cultural heritage.
Appropriation
In the visual arts appropriation involves using existing images, such as the artworks of other artists within a new work in order to create new meanings and ideas. These existing images often convey powerful meanings that artists build on, challenge or critique when they use the image. Appropriation is a strategy commonly associated with postmodern art. Appropriation is not plagiarism as the artist is not trying to copy or quote from the artwork in order to claim it as his/her own idea.
Anthropology
The study of the origin and behaviour of human kind. This includes religious and cultural customs and beliefs.
Australian Perspecta
A biennial exhibition which began in 1981 and ceased in 2000. Initiated by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, its main aim was to showcase contemporary Australian art.
Basquiat, Jean–Michel (1960–1988)
An American artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent. His raw, expressionistic style reflects the influence of graffiti and Jazz music. His work addressed issues of ‘black’ culture and identity, especially in the context of American society.
Bicentenary or Bicentennial
An anniversary of two hundred years. The Australian Bicentenary in 1988 marked two hundred years of European occupation in Australia. Bicentennial celebrations commenced in January 1988.
Caricature
An image or portrait that exaggerates and distorts the appearance of a person or object but is still recognisable.
Constructivist
A non- representational form of abstract art associated with Constructivism, (c1919–1934), that originated in Moscow. This art movement favoured art for social purposes and is often aligned to Socialist regimes.
Conventions
Widely accepted and understood ways of doing something. Meaning is often communicated in visual language by convention. The use of black to represent death for example is a widely recognised convention in Western culture.
Cook, Captain James (1728–1779)
An English Explorer, Navigator and Cartographer. He is recognised as having charted many unknown landmasses, such as New Zealand, Newfoundland and Hawaii, as well as the Antarctic Circle, during his voyages in the Pacific Ocean. He is most famous for ‘discovering’ Australia in 1770.
Deconstruct or Deconstruction
A way of breaking down and analysing images in order to discover, recognise and understand the underlying ideas within an artwork and to ‘construct’ new meanings.
De Stijl
Literally translated means ‘the style’. The name of a group of artists and designers in Holland (c1917– 28), who believed that art could achieve a new utopian and spiritual harmony by reducing images to basic elements, such as vertical and horizontal lines, primary colours and black and white.
Dreaming
The basis of Indigenous Australian belief systems and spirituality. The land is viewed by Indigenous Australians as a record of ancestral activity. At the beginning of time, ancestor spirits rose from beneath the earth and through their travels and activities produced the landscape, laws and customs we know today. The Dreaming is not static and continues to permeate everyday living. Individuals are born into the land and obtain a spiritual association with a dreaming totemic ancestor, usually an animal or plant from the area.
Enlightenment
An intellectual movement that developed during the eighteenth century, in many European countries, and the United States. It advocated reason above emotional or spiritual knowledge. It marked a time when scientific knowledge became the measure of all learning. Enlightenment thinkers believed that systematic thinking could be applied to all spheres of life to develop the individual, society and the state.
Ethnography
The description and study of various cultural and racial groups. The study of a particular human society to learn and understand its culture.
Eurocentric
Viewing the world from a European perspective. This perspective often assumes the superiority of Western culture.
Expressionist or Expressionism
A style of art that emphasises personal feelings, responses and thoughts rather than objective representation of subject matter. This is often achieved through expressive use of art elements, materials and techniques such as gestural marks that reveal the artists’ feelings.
Genocide
The systematic and deliberate destruction of a race of people.
Hebrew Scriptures
Refer to Old Testament books within the Bible that tell the story of the special covenant between the Israelites and their God.
Ideologies
A body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class or culture.
Kitsch
A term of German origin meaning ‘to make cheap’. It refers to art that is in bad taste or an inferior copy of an existing style.
Malevich, Kazimir Severinovich (1878–1935)
Malevich was a Russian avant- garde artist as well as an important member of the Suprematist movement. He pioneered geometric abstract art.
Mimicry
Means ‘to imitate’.
Modernist or Modernism
In this context refers to the major artistic movements in Western art between about 1860–1970 when art seemed to ‘progress’ from the naturalism of Impressionism to the abstract and non- representational art of the 1950s and 1960s. These art movements were often radical at the time and challenged many social, political, religious or artistic values.
Mondrian, Piet (1872–1944)
An important Dutch artist associated with De Stijl. His artworks are characterised by their grid- like compositions and a palette limited to black and white and the primary colours. While many of his artworks look simple they are complex and deep investigations into space and form. For Mondrian the grid was the basic structure to convey the essence of all things.
Moët et Chandon prize
Was a prestigious art prize awarded annually to artists under the age of 35. The successful artist was awarded $50,000 and a studio for a year in the Champagne district of France. Usually 25–30 artworks were chosen from thousands of entries as finalists. These works formed the basis of an annual exhibition that toured the major state galleries.
Multidisciplinary
In art this term often refers to artists that work using two or more different art forms and/or materials within their art practice.
Pastiche
A mixture of materials, forms, motifs or styles in an artwork. These may be borrowed or appropriated from a range of different sources.
Perspective or Linear perspective
Perspective is the illusion of three- dimensional space on a flat surface. Linear perspective is a mathematical drawing system developed during the Renaissance that assisted artists to create an illusion of three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. This drawing system involves the use of vanishing points and a horizon line.
Pointillist
A style of painting where different colours are painted side- by- side, using small regular dots. From a distance the colours blend in the viewer’s eye (optical mixing) to create new colours or tonal effects. This style was developed by French artist Georges Seurat (1859–1891).
Pollock, Jackson (1912–1956)
American painter associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement, specifically Action painting. Pollock’s Action painting reflected a radical approach to painting that involved dripping and pouring paint directly onto a canvas rolled on the floor. Pollock was inspired to work on the floor by the sand paintings of the Navaho Indians. Gesture and movement played an important role in Pollock’s work, allowing him to create spontaneous marks on canvas and to express emotion and raw energy.
Postcolonial
Set of ideas developed in reaction to colonialism. Colonialism is associated with the forced settlement and control of an area of land (colony) by an outside political or geographic power. Historically, colonising powers have imposed their own cultural, social and other values on the places and people they colonise. Post colonialism is a movement away from colonial power, and the cultural, economic and other dependencies associated with it. Post colonialism questions previously accepted views of history and also recognises the cultural, social and other rights of indigenous people.
Postmodernism
Applies to wide ranging developments in philosophy, architecture, art, literature and culture that have influenced contemporary society since the 1970s. It was generally a reaction to modernism (see modernism for definition). In the visual arts it involved a rejection of many of the ideas and values associated with modernism. Humour and irony were often used to question established ideas and approaches. Many postmodern artworks include images or forms appropriated form earlier art styles or popular culture.
Preston, Margaret (1875–1963)
An Australian artist influential during the 1920s–1940s. She attempted to create a uniquely Australian art by developing imagery that reflected Australian colours and style. Preston believed that Aboriginal art provided the key to establishing a national art and used many motifs and colours inspired by Aboriginal culture. She was one of the first Australian artists to recognise the importance and significance of Aboriginal art, but many later artists and Aborigines saw her approach as trivializing or reducing Aboriginal art to kitsch (see kitsch for definition).
Primitivism
An art style that reacted against the ideas of the Enlightenment (see Enlightenment for definition). It highlights tribal cultures that appear to be free from the restraint of Western culture. In art it is an attempt to capture the raw essence and mystical beauty of objects and images, however it is now understood that this is a simplistic interpretation of other cultures.
Psychoanalysis
A process that investigates mental processes, by examining the ‘unconscious’. This often involves the study of dreams. Many mental disorders can be understood and treated by studying the unconscious. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) developed this theory in the late 1880s. This study had a strong influence on the arts in the 19th century, especially the Surrealist movement instigated by artist/poet, Andre Breton (1896–1966).
Reynolds, Henry (born 1938)
An eminent Australian historian and published author. Much of his recent research and articles have highlighted the violent conflict between Indigenous Australian and European colonists during the colonisation of Australia.
Quadroon
A derogatory and racist term used to describe people of ‘mixed blood’. This term literally means a person that is one quarter black and was mainly used in the United States in the 19th century. It tries to quantify how ‘black’ or ‘white’ a person is.
Signifiers
Are signs or symbols that carry meaning beyond their literal interpretation. They stand for or represent different meanings and ideas.
Sovereign rights or Sovereignty
The right to act as the supreme law making authority.
Terra Nullius
A Latin term which translates as ‘Empty Land’ or ‘Nobody’s Land’. Captain Cook declared Australia to be ‘Terra Nullius’ when he sailed into Botany Bay on April 28th 1770, so that he could claim Australia for Britain. This proclamation ignored the fact that hundreds of different groups of Indigenous people occupied the land.
Theosophy
Is a religious philosophy which has its basis in Buddhist thought. It proclaims the unity of the universe and that all religions have a portion of spiritual truth, and therefore will help humanity evolve to greater perfection.
Triptych
A painting that is divided into three separate sections. This idea developed during the Middle Ages when altar pieces were made in three parts. The central panel was usually flanked by smaller panels on either side and told a religious story or an episode in the Bible.