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An artist's ability to connect to their work and express themselves through their work is arguably the most appreciated skill that they posses. Leah King-Smith recomposes her cultural and personal history in her works and effectively relates that to the history of the aboriginal people during the nineteenth century. King-Smith's personal and family journeys are displayed throughout her works and the most prominent implicit massage in her work is to create understanding of her culture and the impacts of colonial rule. The impact on her personally and to her culture is displayed confronting yet effectively due to her ability to connect with what she is portraying. John Wolsely's works capture his relationship and strong appreciation for the Australian land around him and displays its natural beauty and essence throughout his most significant works. Both artists capture the meaning of Australian identity whilst expressing their personal connection with Australia, the land and its cultural past.
Leah King-Smith is one of many contemporary Australian artists to engage with nineteenth century ethnographic archival photography. Leah King-Smith's works of indigenous media art explore the visual culture of Australia's colonial past and the indigenous oppression. King-Smith is an Australia indigenous photographer and her serious 'Patterns of Connections' are photo compositions of her own landscape photographs blended with archival images from the State Library of Victoria. (http://nga.gov.au) She works with original historical photographs most commonly of aboriginal people in typical colonial portraits. She layers these ghosted figures over her own photographed works of nature. The landscape runs through the people in the foreground and not only revives the connection between the people and the land she displays the effects of colonialism during the period. These images that appear to haunt the landscape are aboriginal people dressed in their mission whites and are faded at the edges. The harshness and impact of colonial rule on the aboriginals marks an unforgettable past for indigenous Australians and King-Smith captures this feeling. Her images attempt to display the connection between self and land which is central to aboriginal culture; however her works differ from other contemporary aboriginal art as she does not refer to aspects of alienation. The mixing of cultures between cultures past and present is strongly conveyed through her works.
Leah King- Smith's works are highly personal yet ambiguous and universal. She uses self representation through her culture's history as a sophisticated device to achieve her strong exhibitions. King-Smith is evidently connected to the figures that haunt the land in her works as personal experience as the effects of her culture are present shine through her works. She makes a deep connection to the past in her works by the resuscitation of the images which are displayed as a memory. Imagery of aboriginal phantasm, are superimposed over coloured images of the Australian bush and the artist represents her own personal connection with aboriginals being historically categorised as full blood or half cast. King-Smith was born from her aboriginal mother and a white farther, fuels her art form her historical background and culture. (http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org). The hardships and effects colonialism had on her culture and family inspires her works as she relates personally and emotionally to them through he experiences. In her 'Patterns of Connection' series, she again overlays nineteenth century photographs of Aboriginal subjects over her own contemporary painted or photographed images of Australian bush. The most significant juxtaposition of past and present is 'untiled number 11'. This work displays Aboriginal women in their white dresses sitting up in typical colonial photograph style. The implicit meaning of this piece is the colonialism of Aboriginal women and the attempted racial purification and denial of indigenous culture. The viewers of this painting are influenced to feel poignant and sympathetic simply by the damaged expression on the female faces. The audience are further encouraged to rethink their conceptions and perspective on aboriginality. King-Smith endeavours to create universal understanding of the indigenous people and their cultures history. Her works are possibly aimed that those attempting to deny history or refuse apology for the stolen generation. Evidently being aboriginal and being aware of her cultures history whilst also having a clear perspective from the white side due to her parent's cultural differences. These cultural difference she experienced in her home her whole life are a reflection of Australia's cultural differences in the past. King-Smiths self-possession in her works display her close relation with colonialism and its impact on aboriginal culture as aspects of cultural purification are displayed.
John Wolseley, although not Australian, captures the beauties of Australia's environment through his works. Wolseley studied at the St Martin's and Byam Shaw Schools of Art in London, in 1958-59, before studying with S.W. Hayter in Paris from 1962-70. He more significantly settled in Australia in 1976. Wolseley's works record in minute detail aspects of the environments he personally encounters whilst representing the structure of the Australian land and all that it encompasses. (http://www.johnwolseley.net). The geological features of his works hold just as much importance as the local flora and fauna and cultural stories and places. Unarguably his works are enriched with the true meaning of native Australia and portrayed it exceptionally. In recent years Wolseley has adapted the method of enlarging his studies on a colours photocopier, reassembled it and then painted back onto the copy creating a new artwork. Washes of translucent paint and detailed pencil lines make up his prominent pieces. Despite being boring in the United Kingdom, Wolseley has a strong affinity with the Australian bush and captures its essences along with Australian culture.
Wolsey has an obvious personal connection to the Australian land and surrounds himself constantly with the nature of in his works. His campaigns into the depths of Australian bush allow him to depict flora and fauna and the imprint of human habitation and his effects on the land so effectively. He uses the term, 'geopiety' to describe his personal reverence for the earth, land and planet and his interaction with it. (http://nga.gov.au). His most prominent works display the Australian bush affected by fire whilst capturing natural aspects such as swamps and lava flows in the Hamilton region. Wolseys eyes for geographical details generates his images as he takes notes of his detailed observations. He scribbles butterflies, moths, lava flows and volcanic sinkholes that are evident in his distinct areas. His work on the 'Various Details of Camel Gate Border Track SA/VIC', painted in 2007, capture his surroundings of the land which surrounded his studio at the time. The connected with the natural world around him displays the environmental aspects such as the swamp but displays the affects of human with the barbed fence that weaves through it. This piece is done with water colour and carbonised wood on graphite paper which further adapts the use of natural products to produce his final works. The importance and appreciation Wolseley shares with the land personally is evidently depicted in his works. The connect he experiences with the land which can be seen throughout his artistic practices.
Both artists capture the meaning of Australian identity whilst expressing their personal connection with Australia, the land and its cultural past. King-Smith's personal and family journys are displayed throughout her works as she endeavours to create understanding for indigenous people and their past. Colonisation and its impact on the land and the people are evident in both King-Smith and Wolseley's works. King-Smith connects with her pieces through he passion for her culture. Wolseley responds to the land and connects with it as he has a strong appreciation for the natural environment and this is displayed throughout his prominent works of Australian. Significantly both artists display cultural, social and personal connections to their works.
Leah King- Smith
'Patterns of Connection'
Cibachrome Photograph Untitled 11.
Various Details of Camel Gate Border Track SA/VIC