EVER PRESENT WILLIAM BARAK CORROBOREE POSTCARD
In the 1830s, Aboriginal people in what is now the state of Victoria experienced an invasion of Country as colonists stole land and converted it to pasture. The results were forced displacement, violence and immense cultural loss. William Barak was a clan Elder of the Wurundjeri people, and one of the first people to be forcibly resettled at the Aboriginal station at Coranderrk, outside Naarm/Melbourne.
He became a leader of that Community, and campaigned actively to prevent Coranderrk from becoming pastoral land. Barak produced drawings like these from his memories of being on Country, to pass on his cultural knowledge to the next generation. In this image, Aboriginal men painted with traditional body markings perform a dance, watched by an audience wearing possum-skin cloaks. By the time of his death, Barak was one of the few people to retain knowledge of the traditional practices of the area. Today, Communities draw on historic works like this to revive tradition or create new cultural expressions.
William Barak, Wurundjeri/Woiwurung people, Corroboree, 1895, drawing in charcoal and natural earth pigments over black pencil on prepared linen (fragment of bag used for storing religious texts), sheet 60 x 76.4 cm, National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra, purchased 2009
Postcard Dimension: 148 x 105 mm