SUZY EVANSGomeroi attacking Major Mitchell and his native companion.
Until 13 December 2014
Gomeroi (Kamilaroi or Gamilaroi) people form one of the largest indigenous nations of Australia. They live in an area of north western New South Wales stretching from Murrurundi in the upper Hunter to Mungindi on the Queensland border and have a fierce reputation as warriors. Major Mitchell was Australia's fourth Surveyor General and the explorer who coined the phrase "Australia Felix" to describe the glorious landscape that he "discovered". He was also the first non-Aboriginal to visit Moree where Suzy Evans' people, the Gameroi live.
Most of the trees that Major Mitchell famously marked - "like doges" - have gone and along with them trees carved by the Gomeroi as funerary markers, but the record of violent confrontation that is associated with Mitchell's three expeditions remains.
Suzy said taht she had Albert Tucker's portraits of Australian explorers and the paintings of Sydney Nolan in mind when she made her work. She admires their pictures, in particular the way that Tucker paints parrots alighting on the heads of his explorers, but can't help finding their interpretation of teh genocidal appropriation of the Australian landscape absurd. In particular, it's hard to reconcile their mythology of a hostile and punishing landscape with Mitchell's observation of an "Australian Felix", the fortunate and bountiful Australia. It reminds us that mythology is simply myth and that when it comes to telling of our country's history our mythic representation rests in the hands of our artists.
Suzy Evans' splendid work gives us a diminutive Major Mitchell being seen off the wall by a flight of Gomeroi. She takes on her role as myth-maker as surely as she does the role of image maker in this work that was exhibited in the recent Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award held at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, where Suzy says with delight: "it filled an entire wall!"
Suzy is a local to Redfern, SLOTs neighbourhood.