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Title

Kunkardi

(1897)

Artist

James White

Australia

1862 – 1918

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Conamdatta, a northern Queensland Aboriginal man
    Bust of a Blackfellow
    Aboriginal Boy
    (Aboriginal head)
    Date
    (1897)
    Media category
    Sculpture
    Materials used
    plaster
    Dimensions
    89.5 x 56.0 x 33.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Credit
    Gift of Mr A. Dattilo-Rubbo 1924
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    1253
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    James White

    Works in the collection

    1

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  • About

    Little is known about the English-trained sculptor James White. He produced public sculptures for Sydney and Melbourne, but of his extant works 'Kunkardi' is the most inspired. The subject is modelled in a neo-classical, ennobling style, but the expressive facial features and striking scarification registers an individual and cultural identity that transcends symbolic guise.

    Kunkardi, from the Gulf region in Queensland, was one of the 27 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who were conscripted to perform in the exploitative 'wild Australia show' that toured Australia in the 1890s. While the show came to Sydney, White appears to have modelled the figure of Kunkardi from a photograph taken by Henry King in 1893; one of a series of promotional portraits of the troupe. Originally exhibited in 1897 as 'Conamdatta, a northern Queensland Aboriginal man', King's photograph has served to identify Kunkardi and rename White's sculpture.

    We gratefully acknowledge Michael Aird, director of the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum, for the information provided on the subject of this work.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications