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Katherine Hattam History and fiction

oil on linen

152 x 152 cm; 154 x 154 cm framed

I am in an Australasian book group. We read Kate Grenville’s The lieutenant. I loved the book. Set in colonial Sydney, it tells/retells the moving story of William Dawes, a white astronomer, and Eora woman Patyegarang teaching one another their languages. Dawes’s notebooks are testament to this. Grenville fictionalises the story. Both Dawes and Watkin Tench, whose experiences with the First Fleet were republished in 1788, are given invented names. When The lieutenant was published, historians such as Inga Clendinnen (Dancing with strangers) were infuriated. I enjoyed all three books and the argument between those two ways of describing the world and wanted to celebrate that in this painting.

Katherine Hattam, 2020