“Of all the paintings you have looked at closely connected with the 19th Century today, which painting do you prefer? Describe in detail… tell the story in your own words. What do you think motivated the painter to produce this work? Can you write a poem or story that builds on/is influenced by this work of art?”
This week we had the privilege of visiting the New South Wales Art Gallery. This was my third trip there whilst studying this course and each visit makes me appreciate more and more about the gallery itself. I appreciate the peace when you enter and walk all around, I appreciate the honour and respect the artworks receive as they are hung so elegantly, the cafés scattered throughout and the many different types of people you see within the gallery.
Previous visits of the art gallery left me questioning for weeks about how Picasso conveyed such meaning through what initially seems as a chaotic painting. Now that I am studying 19th Century Literature, the piece that caught my eye was called, “Natives on the Ouse River”, a painting by John Glover.
John Glover is famous for his success in art, majoring in watercolour and landscape. Throughout his paintings he conveys emotions that tie in with the original landscape, in it’s natural form, having been colonised by European culture.
This particular piece of his depicts perfectly of the life once lived before the colonisation. I noticed without a second look that trees take up the majority of the canvas. The trees are green, healthy in appearance, full of leaves and there are many of them surrounding the land. Then there are people. In comparison to the trees, the people are painted so little. Whilst this can seen domineering and overpowering in face value, I believe the difference in size shows the people’s appreciation for the trees. That is, the trees and everything they symbolise (nature itself) is a mother to them. The true essence of this painting is the people living in harmony with nature.
Another area I noticed that depicts this theme of harmony is the one person swimming in the water. It is quite difficult to see, but he is at the bottom right of the painting and seems to be ‘free-styling’. Initially, I thought this was a crocodile, and it took me off guard to discover that it was actually a person swimming. To me, this communicates not only being in harmony with nature, but also being one with nature. That is, nothing is in too much power that it overrules their environment of becoming one life force.
Nature all around with peace so superb
Mountains high and low with only birds to disturb
Water stretched so long, trees near and far
Grass and flowers blooming right along the sandbar
Nature all around, consuming us to one
Plants, creatures, friends, clouds, fires, sun
All these elements free to roam
All these elements make up my home