It was a great opportunity to visit the NSW Art Gallery again. But this time it was so much better, because there was a purpose to it. Our literature class were required to choose a painting to write about, and discuss how literature can also be expressed through art.
The painting that caught my attention was Russell Drysdale’s, ‘Shopping Day’ (1953). The image depicted Indigenous women and children dressed in European clothes supposedly going shopping.
What struck me from this painting, was how distorted or blurred the faces of the people were. Everything else around them: the buildings, the statue etc, were defined.
Russell Drysdale was empathising with the Indigenous people in his artwork, conveying the dispossession of the people when they were forced to assimilate into white society in the 1950s. A time where most Indigenous peoples had lost their lands, and lived on the fringes of non-Indigenous society; many were not eligible for government benefits when in need; they were controlled by state laws; the stolen generation etc.
The dark colours of the Indigenous people against the warm and light colours of their surroundings, highlight their stand in the painting.
The blurred images of their faces portray a loss of identity. The fainted light colouring of their clothing emphasises this losing of identity through the integration into white society. However, the warm colours and the fact that they are not wearing shoes, somewhat tells us that there is still a familiarity or a connection to what they knew (their connection to their land).
The divided road, where it seems to mount on the right-hand side to where the Indigenous people are standing, conveys the dispossession of the Indigenous peoples; they were secluded. Their posture also makes you feel as though they are not relaxed or comfortable and are somewhat being controlled.
© 2007-2014, National Museum of Australia, Australia in the 1950s, www.indigenousrights.net.au; accessed online 3rd April 2019.