November verse 15: An initial response to a work by Danie Mellor

November verse 15: An initial response to
Danie Mellor's A time of the world's making
Born on stolen Mamu Country
where the Johnstone River flows
(Robert Johnstone brought the guns, ey?),
where the cash crop sugar grows,
I loved that place, its rich volcanic
soil, the heat, and the titanic
rainfall – the rainforest too.
The place was old, and I was new.
I didn't hear its age-old stories.
Now tiny men, ropes, floating shell,
and women with their pile of skulls –
in crayon-blue, no dark green glory –
all alive, a dream unfurled:
is now a time to make the world?

Danie Mellor’s stunning work, A time of the world’s making, 2019, features in Real Worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (next door to the huge Arthur Streeton exhibition on the same floor, and a floor below the Archibald).

Here’s a video walk-through of the Dobell with curator Ann Ryan. She talks about Danie Mellor’s two ‘landspaces’ from 11:16 to 12:58:

2 responses to “November verse 15: An initial response to a work by Danie Mellor

  1. Very moving – your verse, the art gallery tour and explanation of Mellors’ work! When I discover upon further reading that Johnstone was a mass murderer – I am shocked that the River still bears his name. It’s like the name of the main Strasse running through a formerly Jewish quarter of any city in Germany or Poland or Hungary as HitlerStr. Unimaginable. Pol Pot Square. An asylum-seeker gaol on Manus or in Nauru named Dutton Plaza or Morrison Mall! Honestly! It makes me wonder about where I live now at Caves Beach NSW – Awabagal country – Swansea? Pelican? Blacksmiths? Murray’s Beach? What are their true names? What is being covered up – white-washed in the truest sense! Thanks, Jonathan!


    • I’m flattered that you’ve done this research, Jim. And agree completely. But as far as place names go inertia is huge. Mind you, Innisfail, which sits on the junction of North an South Johnstone Rivers, changed its name from Geraldton about 100 years ago


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