Terra Nullius

2013

oil, canvas, pine, rabbit skin size, native grass
605H x 605W x 60mmD +/-

Series: Grass Work

Latin for 'empty land', Terra Nullius is an organic abstraction of native Australian grass in an oil-blackened square. As with Malevich's Black Square, this independent, non-compliant artwork directly contests ideas of domain and territory against a backdrop of abstraction, rebellion, cultural dominance and nationalism. Terra Nullius is the international legal and moral justification used by colonising powers and settlers for the forcible occupation of new lands. In the landmark 1992 Australian High Court Mabo case, that justification was overturned and traditionalAboriginal land tenure validated. Frontier histories typically overlook resistance and wars fought on Australian soil by Aborigines in defence of land and culture. Resisting death and tied to the mystical elements of earth, sun and moon, Terra Nullius enters Dream-time. Care and attention must be given to this landscape. If left to dry, the native rootstock becomes dormant, waiting to be revived. With subtle shifts over time the landscape recovers, firmly encased in a dark black square, appealing to human instincts and reaching towards the light.