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The culture of death in colonial Australia

  • 21 Sep 2023
  • 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
  • Central Gallery, TMAG
  • 52


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Et in Australia ego: the culture of death in colonial Australia

This lecture looks at death in the Australian colonies during the 19th century, or rather considers how death looked in this particular place and time. From frontier massacres of Aborigines to domestic murders, from epidemic diseases to industrial accidents, from infancy to old age, the Grim Reaper energetically wielded his scythe (then his Sunshine Header-Harvester) through the lives of the Georgians and Victorians.

The lecture by Dr David Hansen examines the wide range of death-associated images and artefacts to be found in the colonial cultural assemblage, both in the (British) parent culture and in its antipodean echoes and distortions: in sepulchral monuments, in the rituals and accoutrements of funerals, in mourning dress and jewellery as well as in documentary photography, genre painting, death masks, waxworks, even post-mortem portraiture.

David Hansen has been working in the visual arts sector for some 40 years: as a public art gallery director and curator, an auction house researcher and most recently as Associate Professor at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory in the School of Art and Design, Australian National University. His research interests centre largely on Australian art, colonial to contemporary, with special expertise in the work of John Glover and in the representation of First Nations people by settler artists. He is an accomplished writer, having won the Tasmania Prize in the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards, the Australian Book Review’s Calibre Prize, the Alfred Deakin Prize for an essay encouraging public debate in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and most recently the William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History.

This is a FREE EVENT and you are welcome to bring non-member friends.

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