By Jillian Mundy
The signature piece of Ros Langford’s graduation exhibition, ‘Skin to Blanket’, was snapped up by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery before it even opened. The pre-Christmas exhibition’s largest piece features designs in ochre, collected from Tasmania and Yorta Yorta country (Victoria) on a queen-size woollen blanket.
During her four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts course at the University of Tasmania’s Art School, Ms Langford utilised a variety of mediums using ochre with block prints and screen-printing. Skin to Blanket is a depiction of the essence of Ms Langford and her heritage. “It’s a combination, about the essence of who I am, my mother and grandmother’s country, Yorta Yorta, but it’s also about my family of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community here and their history,” the 63-year-old said. “There’s Yorta Yorta symbols, there’s Tasmanian Aboriginal symbols, basket weaves from Yorta Yorta and Tasmania, and simple things like hand prints of the future generation.”
Ms Langford is proud that her signature piece was bought by the local museum. “I wanted it to stay in Tassie,” she said. Ms Langford was inspired by opossum skin cloaks made in 1999 by Yorta Yorta women Vicki and Debra Couzens, Lee Darroch and Treahna Hamm – a traditional skill which had nearly disappeared by the mid-1950s. “I just absolutely admired them,” she told The Koori Mail at the packed opening at Art Mob on Hobart’s waterfront. “The blanket became a significant piece for me."
“By us being colonised, a lot of traditions were taken away or forcibly removed from us. Blanket today is a comfort for some people, but it was also the cause of some of our people getting influenza, and dying, because of the thinness of them, because the water didn’t flow off them.” The actual blanket Ms Langford used holds a personal significance to her but she prefers to keep it private.
Studying art has not only given Ms Langford the opportunity to think of herself as an artist and produce works with mediums new to her, but also the chance to enhance the university program. “They didn’t have good Aboriginal studies within the art curriculum,” she said. “That has changed now. I was able to give some knowledge of the land.”
Ms Langford has also inspired her own family, with her daughter Ruth starting a university course studying community recovery. “No one in my family has got a degree and I wanted to show them they could do that,” she said.
(Story courtesy Koori Mail)
Caption: An artistic inspiration: Artist and UTAS alumna Ros Langford (right) with her daughter Ruth and her signature piece Skin to Blanket, bought by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. (Photo courtesy Koori Mail)
Authorised by the Head of School, Tasmanian College of the Arts
14 April, 2011