Blog 4- The Orange Tree

Discuss the significance of “The Orange Tree

The Orange Tree” by John Shaw Nielson is a delectable poem to feast your mind upon. But before we delve into the meaning behind it, let us understand a little more about the author.

John Shaw Nielson was one of the finest lyrical poets in Australia who wrote a great deal about the natural world and the beauty in it. He took a keen interest in colours and the use of synesthetic imagery in his poetry. He had a mind that spun faster than the teacups at Disneyland, and this fantastical drama buried in his mind he attempts to convey in his poems.

I interpret this poem to be about silence:

The young girl stood beside me.

I Saw not what her young eyes could see.

The first two lines are important as they show an adult and a child looking at an orange tree, however, the child can see things that the adult cannot. It is known that children interpret the world differently to adults, their imaginations thriving upon things that they don’t quite understand yet.

The adult then begins a barrage of questions asking for the child to describe the moment.

Is it, I said, of east or west?

I believe there is a sense of irony here as usually, it is children with their curious nature who ask all the questions about the world. However, here we have the reverse with the adult asking the questions. The constant flow of questions leaves the child to say:

Listen! the young girl said. There calls

No voice, no music beats on me;

But it is almost sound: it falls

This evening on the Orange Tree.

The empathetic statement “Listen!” is almost a sound. The child wishes for the adult to just listen as she silently reflects upon her experience with the Orange tree. The adult does not understand her experience and continues to bombard her with questions.

After asking the adult twice to “Listen!” she gives up.

Silence! The young girl said. Oh why,

Why will you talk to weary me?

Plague me no longer now, for I

Am listening like the Orange Tree.

In a bustling world, people often forget to be silent and just listen to others and the world around them. As the adult asks questions, he ignores the child’s plea to simply listen as he does not understand what she sees. I believe there is a call here to embrace what comes with a reflective acceptance like that of a child.



Blog 2- An Art Show

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”

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