Murder of Crows distils through ten corvid forms and 12 letters cut from black painted plywood a concise representation of the deliberate annihilation of my ancestors in the first three decades of 19th century Van Diemen’s Land/Lutruwita/Tasmania. Newspapers, correspondence and diaries from that period confirm that colonists codified Tasmanian Aboriginal people into ‘crows’ and described their/our massacre as everyday. This artwork also references The Annihilation of the Blacks 1986 by Fiona Foley and the legacies shared between First Peoples across this continent of survival against the odds, and the impetus to remember and transmit what occurred.
The Impossible Return consists of two tea-tree (Melaleuca spp.) spears repurposed into stilts with the addition of kangaroo skin strapping over eucalyptus wood footrests. These works are physical incantations that represent through object-making my desire to travel through time and experience my Country and Old People before invasion and colonisation, even momentarily. These stilts however, with their fire-hardened pointed tips would, if I attempt to walk with them, immediately stick in the ground and immobilise me. This return, so desired, is impossible.
Julie Gough is an artist, writer and curator whose work involves uncovering and re-presenting conflicting and
subsumed histories, many referring to her family’s experiences as Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Gough is
Trawlwoolway through her maternal family. Her traditional homeland is Tebrikunna in far north-eastern
Lutruwita/Tasmania, with her extended family living in the Latrobe/East Devonport region since the 1840s.
Trawlwoolway ancestor Woretemoeteyenner, born in the late 1790s, was one of the four daughters of east
coast leader Mannalargenna. Gough’s current work in installation, sound and video provides the means to
explore ephemerality, absence and recurrence.