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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Myth of the Western man (White man's burden)



Gordon Bennett


1955 - 03 Jun 2014


1788 Colony established. Flag raised.

1796 First legally sanctioned massacre of Aboriginal people – Hawkesbury River area – troops sent from Parramatta.

1799 - First murder trial of five whites for the murder of two Aboriginal boys – found guilty but released – pardoned three years later.

1802 - Pemulwuy killed and decapitated, his head sent to England.

1803 - First colony established in Tasmania

1804 - First massacre of Aboriginal people in Tasmania, at Risdon Cove.

1813 - Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson cross the Blue Mountains into Wiradjuri land.

1824 - Massacres of Wiradjuri people.

1838 - Myall Creek massacre in northern New South Wales. First white man hung – against public opinion and in a retrial after acquitted in first trial – for the murder of Aboriginal people. This creates a climate of secrecy around further murders.

1857 - Yeeman people (near Roma, Queensland) massacred.

1861 - Largest massacre of whites by Aboriginal people in reprisal for hundreds of Aboriginal deaths, at Cullin-la-Ringo Station, Queensland by the Kairi people.

1869 - Tasmania, William Lanney – touted as the last Aboriginal male – died. His grave is looted and skeleton stolen.

1876 - Tasmania, Truganini – touted as the last Aboriginal female – died. Her skeleton is put on display (against her last wishes) in the Tasmanian Museum.

1928 - Coniston massacre in the Northern Territory, near Yuendumu. Those responsible vindicated in an official (cover up) inquiry ending 7 February 1929.

1971 - Yirrkala, Gove Peninsula, land rights thrown out of court.

1972 - Aboriginal Tent Embassy set up in Canberra. Gough Whitlam elected and Blue Poles by Jackson Pollack purchased for Australia (public outraged).

1976 - Truganini's bones cremated and her ashes dispersed in the wind.

1992 - Mabo case is won – Terra Nullius overturned.

Information provided by the artist.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2006


Place where the work was made

Queensland Australia



Media category


Materials used

synthetic polymer paint on canvas


175.5 x 304.3 cm stretcher

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.r. verso, pencil "...1992/ G Bennett 24-12-92".


Purchased 1993


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Gordon Bennett

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 14 publications


Anthony Bond and Victoria Lynn, AGNSW Collections, 'Contemporary Practice - Here, There, Everywhere ...', pg. 229-285, Sydney, 1994, 284 (colour illus.).

Stephen Farthing (Editor), 1001 paintings you must see before you die, London, 2007, (colour illus.).

Kelly Gellatly, Gordon Bennett, Melbourne, 2007, 48-49 (colour illus.), 127. plate nos. 19-20

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art', pg. 208-241, Sydney, 1999, 234 (colour illus.).

Tim Jordan and Steve Pile (Editors), Social change, England, 2002, (colour illus.). plate no. 9

Lunami Art Gallery and Ross Gibson, Inner-Land, Japan, 1993.

Susan McCulloch, Alan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, The new McCulloch's encyclopedia of Australian art, 'Bennett, Gordon', pg. 40-41, Carlton, 2006, 41.

Pam Meecham and Julia Sheldon, Modern art: a criticial introduction, Oxon, 2005, 14-15, between pgs. 84 & 85 (colour illus.). plate no. 1

Margo Neale, Yiribana: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection, Sydney, 1994, 122, 123 (colour illus.), 136, 139. plate no. 60

Terry Smith, Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles, 'Putting painting at stake: Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles', pg.55-73, Canberra, 2002, 62, 63 (colour illus.).

Nicholas Thomas, Possessions: indigenous art / colonial culture, 'Hierarchies: from traditional to contemporary', pg. 196-223, London, 1999, 200, 202, 204 (colour illus.), 207, 297. 124

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Cultural memory, critical distance', pg.154-203, Sydney, 2006, 160, 161 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 204 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 200 (colour illus.).