We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Danie Mellor The acquired Arcadia

acrylic on board with gesso and iridescent wash

120 cm (diameter)

Towering jungle surrounds a confidently posing figure and at first seems a picturesque rainforest paradise. It is illusory, however. Based on a historic photograph, this painting reflects upon the complex histories of colonised landscapes from where my Aboriginal family comes. Beneath a giant fern tree stands Walter Roth, Chief Protector of Aboriginals in northern Queensland, who exempted my great-great-grandmother from the Aboriginals Protection Act of 1897 and whose decisions affected generations of lives to come. The land in this scene is transfigured through colonial presence and revisions of power. Nature is claimed and possessed, its holistic beauty yet to be fragmented and scarred.

Danie Mellor, 2022