Which artwork did you find most meaningful and/or enjoyable? Give a verbal description of the work (include a visual image if you can).
What is it about art that makes a dull room seem so lively? How is it, that simple colours and patterns can captivate our minds and make us weep or grin?
Is it because art is able to express the emotions that we aren’t able to articulate through words? Or because art allows us to truly accept ourselves, without judgement or comparison?
Journeying to the Art Gallery of NSW was an enjoyable and engrossing experience. With so many intriguing artworks on display, it was hard to pinpoint just one to focus on. However, the painting by Trevor Nickolls titled “The Garden of Eden” was an artwork that truly captivated me.
Dubbed “the father of urban Aboriginal art”, Trevor Nickolls explores points of intersection between the traditional Indigenous ways of living and contemporary urban existence.
“The Garden of Eden” articulates the idea of a utopian world where man and woman, black and white, animals and plants all live together harmoniously. The idea that leaped into my mind when studying this painting was that Australia appeared to be this new Eden. It is a heavenly place where everyone and everything was accepted. This can be seen through the unification of a black man and a white woman as they hold hands and through the integration of Christian and Indigenous culture. The love heart in between the couple holds within it the Holy Spirit, a symbol of Christianity which is placed inside the shape of Australia, almost like an acceptance of the Christian culture into this new country. However, also pictured is an array of native Australian animals including a serpent which can be linked back to Indigenous culture and to the Dreamtime. Stories told by Indigenous Australians such as The Rainbow Serpent helped frame an understating of how the world was created.
I interpret this as an amalgamation of both cultures. The cultures are not trying to juxtapose one another but rather appear to be integrating. The white woman is also pictured naked rather than in European styled clothing, perhaps alluding to the idea that she is adapting to Indigenous ways of living and being.
The use of earthy colours like red, brown and yellow demonstrate the traditional style of Aboriginal art along with the use of dots and inclusion of the waterholes.
Trevor Nickoll’s art is an innovative and unique style of art that incorporates some stylistic elements of traditional Aboriginal art such as dot painting and rarrk, and intertwines it with other styles of art such as the use of vibrant colours like that of the sky in “The Garden of Eden”