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TCotA Arts Forum | Greg Lehman

Start Date

Apr 28, 2017 12:30 pm

End Date

Apr 28, 2017 1:30 pm

Greg Lehman

(Dis)regarding the savages: terra nullius in Tasmanian colonial art

Greg Lehman has worked in a range of roles over thirty years researching, developing and implementing programs in Aboriginal education, heritage management, culture and arts. He was involved in the establishment of Riawunna, Centre for Aboriginal Education at the University of Tasmania in 1991, and has since been a Research Associate at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University, Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Koorie education at Deakin University, and Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. After degrees in life sciences and geography, Greg read art history at the University of Oxford, and in 2016 completed his PhD research at the University of Tasmania on the visual representation of Tasmanian Aborigines in the 19th century. He currently works as a consultant curator at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and is also curating a major exhibition with Tim Bonyhady on Benjamin Duterrau to be presented at the National Gallery of Australia in 2018.

The idea of ‘European vision’ and its influence on the perception of native peoples in the South Pacific was established by the great Australian art historian Bernard Smith. Central to Smith's analysis is the concept of the Noble Savage. This paper briefly explores some origins of the idea of Noble Savagery and argues that particular iterations of the trope became central to the visual representation of Tasmanian Aborigines in ethnographic and colonial art. In what was perhaps the ultimate disregard of Tasmanian Aboriginal people in the process of British colonisation, early depictions of Van Diemen’s Land almost completely excised Aboriginal presence from the landscape, presaging a campaign of extermination and exile by picturing an empty land decades before administrative measures were taken to physically remove the First Tasmanians from their country.

TCotA Forum is a weekly series of free public lectures held at the Tasmanian College of the Arts (Hunter St) during the semester. TCotA Forum welcomes all students and members of the public, providing a unique opportunity to hear local, national and international visiting scholars and presenters from diverse sectors of the arts discuss their area of professional practice.