Mandy Hunniford

Contemporary Artist

The Midlands – A Historical Narrative

Posted in Works

The Midlands – A Historical Narrative

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The Midlands – A Historical Narrative, interprets the Tasmanian landscape through a synthesis of visual images and history with Colonial and Tasmanian Aboriginal (Palawa) references. The exhibition incorporates a combination of themes, such as the representation of the tribe names of the original inhabitants, the depiction of locations, illustrations of the Midlands and its histories, the identification of early settlers and the relationship between the images and text. The exhibition also explores the narrative of the Red Tree (The Message Tree).

In 1996 a dead Eucalyptus tree, located near Antill Ponds, was painted red by Landcare and artists to symbolise the serious plight of Tasmania’s rural tree decline and the widespread erosion in the Midlands area. A few months later vandals burned the tree to the ground. In 1997 four giant letters spelling the word T R E E were erected on the original red tree site. Over time the maintenance and safety of the structure became an issue and the letters were moved to the side of the Midlands Highway near Oatlands along with a plantation of new trees. This site still remains and was originally seen as a metaphor for change and renewal such as the new trees rising from the ashes of the original tree. Near Jericho, a second dead Eucalyptus tree was painted yellow and although this tree charmed travelers with its idiosyncratic whimsy it is now also gone.

The Midlands – A Historical Narrative investigates the roles of text as visual metaphors and as written history and is a record of Tasmanian history, documenting a sense of place and chronicling the past. These narrative landscapes are not only a declaration of site but also about the passage of time. Tracing the journeys of early exploration, with the use of evocation, allegories, connections and repetition, the aim of this exhibition is to present an inventive and stimulating demonstration of contemporary painting practice with a historical perspective.

*This project was assisted through Arts Tasmania for the Minister for the Arts and supported by National Trust, Tasmania.

*The artist acknowledges and respects the customs and traditions of the First Tasmanians.

*The historical information for this exhibition is supplied by the artist from various sources. This information is not intended to be definitive but to merely act as a guide for the artwork.