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|Title:||Contested Visions, Expansive Views : The Landscape of the Darling River in Western NSW|
|Keywords:||Landscape photography -- New South Wales.|
Darling River (Qld. and N.S.W.) -- In art.
|Publisher:||University of Sydney.|
Sydney College of the Arts, Photomedia
|Abstract:||This paper grows out of my ongoing practice of photographing the Darling River in western NSW. My interest in imaging the landscape and representing the contemporary divisions within it led me to investigate previous colonial conflicts, which occurred as white explorers in the 1830’s and squatters in the 1850’s took over the Aboriginal tribal lands on the Darling. In this paper I investigate the images created by explorers, artists and photographers, which were the beginnings of a Eurocentric vision for this land. These images were created in the context of a colonial history which forms the ideological backdrop to historical events and representations of this land. This research has involved me in an investigation across three different disciplines; Australian history, Australian visual art, and environmental aspects of human interactions with the land. The postcolonial histories which inform my work are themselves re-evaluations of earlier histories. This recent history has revealed, amid the images of European ‘settlement’ and ‘progress’, views of frontier violence and Aboriginal resistance to colonisation that were excluded from earlier histories. The fan-like shape of the Darling River, which for millennia has bought water to this dry land, is the motif that focuses my investigation. I discuss the relatively recent degradation of the river, which is the focus of contemporary conflicts between graziers, Aboriginal people, environmentalists and irrigators. Because large-scale irrigation now has the capacity to divert the flows of entire rivers for the irrigation of cash crops, the insecurities of earlier generations over the ‘unpredictable’ floods and their perception of lack of control over water - has been entirely reversed. ‘Control’ of water is now held by irrigators and the river down stream from the pumps is kept at a constant low, becoming a chain of stagnant waterholes during summer. Like many rivers in industrialised countries, the Darling no longer flows to its ocean. The physical characteristics of rangeland grazing are an important background to my paper. Although the introduction of sheep and cattle has altered and degraded this landscape, unlike ploughed country to the east this land retains much of its native vegetation and an Aboriginal history embedded across its surface. This paper is an investigation of the changing representations of the Australian landscape, and central to my paper (and a result of growing up in this area) is my recognition, at an early age, of cultural difference in the context of this landscape. I became aware of contradictions in how Aboriginal people were treated by the ‘white’ community and I glimpsed the distinct cultural viewpoints held by Aboriginal people. A connection to country continues to be expressed in art produced by Aboriginal people in the Wilcannia area, including work by Badger Bates and Waddy Harris. The Wilcannia Mob, a schoolboy rap-group received national press coverage, winning a Deadly Award in 2002 for their acclaimed song ‘Down River’. While a discussion of these artworks is not part of the discussion of my paper, it is a context for my research. In broad terms this paper is an investigation of different worldviews, different views of land and landscape by graziers, Aboriginal people, environmentalists and irrigators. These views carry with them different cultural understandings and different representations of the land - different and sometimes opposing views of its past and its future. It seems in 2005 that, just as artists, historians, filmmakers, etc. are beginning to come to terms with Australian colonial history, as the El Nino seasons and the importance of ‘environmental flows’ in the Murray Darling Basin are increasingly understood, that technological changes and the global effects of population densities are creating other changes (greenhouse gasses, ozone depletion, climate changes) that once again appear to be unpredictable and beyond our control. While this environmental discussion is outside the scope of the current paper it is a context for my investigation of this landscape.|
|Description:||Master of Visual Arts|
|Rights and Permissions:||The author retains copyright of this thesis.|
|Type of Work:||Masters Thesis|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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