Vol 40(1) - Postcards from the Edge (In Search of Living Curiosities)
In Postcards from the Edge (In Search of Living Curiosities), artist Danie Mellor depicts Australia as the early European observers reimagined, while his imagery echoes the familiar blue and white engravings that adorned 19th Century European transferware china. It portrays an ancient continent with a rich bounty of ‘exotic’ wonders, where the original people and ‘enlightened’ invaders are revealed in a benign relationship.
The photographer in Postcards from the Edge is almost hidden to the left of the image, ‘capturing’ an idyllic rainforest, native animals and three Indigenous men. Mellor’s vision provides an interpretation of events, with the Indigenous people and the environment as the focus, but the idealised and theatrical image — although framed with the exotic decorative blue-and-white floral border — is skewed. In Mellor’s words, ‘it is a deliberate (pictorial) strategy, using irony that owes a debt to postmodern artists who developed a language incorporating that approach. In my work, however, it creates a slightly subversive dialogue around cultural transformation, belonging, and the interpretations that impacted landscape and Country’.
Mellor was born in Mackay, Queensland, of Aboriginal and Scottish heritage, and his cultural and creative perspectives have become increasingly significant within contemporary discussions around colonial narratives and histories.
Recent exhibitions include a major survey of his work at the University of Queensland Art Museum, as well as a solo exhibition, Primordial: SuperNaturalBayiMinyjirral, at the National Museum of Scotland. His work was recently featured at Art Basel Hong Kong with Jan Murphy Gallery.