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Australian Identity

Decent Essays
Australia is a young, modern country made up of a diverse and multicultural population, therefore, it’s difficult to say that it has a single national identity. This essay will examine what Australia’s identity may look like, specifically, through art.
Australia has only been here for little over 200 years whereas other countries have a lot of history with solid identities. Australian art is an important factor that helps to create its identity because its artists are passionate about the unique aspects and symbols of Australia and they incorporate them into their works to really show what they think Australia is.
Australian Impressionism is a good place to start to reflect on the early influences in Australian art. In the late 19th and
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In the early 20th century Charles Meere used art to depict Australia’s beaches as an idyllic place where the average Aussie would spend their free time. These works were during a time when Australian Immigration had a white policy and this was reflected in his subjects being tanned, physically strong, dominant male bodies alongside perfectly shaped young women and carefree children. Meere’s ‘Australian Beach Pattern’ is a symbol of the ideal Australian and promotes it to be typical of Australia’s identity of this era, however, fast forward 49 years to Anne Zahalka’s 1989 ‘The Bathers’ from the Bondi series, ‘Playground of the Pacific’, where she recreates Meere’s iconic painting and compare the characteristics of the Australian people from this timeframe. This photograph highlights how Australia’s culture has evolved while still embracing the importance of the beach to family…show more content…
Ned Kelly is considered to be a folk hero and is remembered as one of Australia’s most significant people because he stood up to corrupt police officers, unfair laws and biased government. Kelly is immortalized in Sidney Nolan’s ‘Ned Kelly’ collection of 27 paintings that re-count his daring exploits with the law. Nolan was sympathetic to this story as he, himself, was a fugitive from the law and, using various Australian landscape scenes as a backdrop, transcended his own conflict onto the canvas to make the series a success. Sidney Nolan, Glenrowan, 1946 Sidney Nolan, Ned Kelly, 1946
The land has a lot to do with Australia, the way that its identity may have developed might be through its isolation and our slow understanding and respect for it. Landscape pieces by other artists at this time depict the land in a much different light than Nolan. Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’ has a woman dressed in dull clothing, standing alone, highlighting her isolation in the Australian outback. Whereas Preston’s abstract landscape ‘Flying Over The Shoalhaven River’ depicts the land to be an inviting and welcoming place. Henry Lawson, The Drover’s Wife, 1945 Margaret Preston, Flying Over The Shoalhaven River,
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