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Robert Hague

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Project Description

Plate Series

Blue Claude (after McCubbin)

2015
Hand gilt 24ct, lithograph on cotton rag paper
70 x 70cm (paper)
McCubbin’s failed gold prospector (Down on his Luck, 1889) sits mournfully in a Wedgwood paradise (after Claude Lorraine, 1650’s), its broken porcelain traced with veins of gold (kintsugi). 

Lorraine here depicts an idealised urban landscape, a pre-Romantic image of utopia and one senses that McCubbin’s miner has realised that his dream of creating Australia in this image is not only futile but was perhaps the wrong dream all along.

Blue Claude is a work about the squandering of Australia’s mining boom, both then and now and about how we choose to commemorate history within our domestic lives.

The Golden Fleece (after Namatjira)

2015
Lithograph on cotton rag paper
70 x 70cm (paper)

Tom Robert’s shearer (The Golden Fleece, 1894) plunders the treasure from under an Albert Namatjira’s ghost gum (1945).

Many, many Australians have grown wealthy from the outback’s seemingly boundless resources, almost none of them Indigenous. Namatjira was Australia’s first Aboriginal art star and at one point was estimated to have supported over 600 people with his painting, yet he died broken after being jailed and was largely unloved by the art establishment.

In 2013, two majestic ghost gums that were iconic images in Namatjira’s paintings, were burnt to the ground in suspicious circumstances, just weeks before they were due to be placed on the heritage register.

Cook’s Landing (after Macleod)

2015
Hand gilt 24ct, lithograph on cotton rag paper
70 x 70cm (paper)

Ned Kelly’s helmeted figure replaces the Aboriginal warriors in this reworking of an iconic 19th century etching. Captain Cook’s boat-people arriving at Kernel in 1770 are met with resistance by the divisive bushranger from the 1880’s. Kelly, who is often associated with xenophobia, is caught repelling the English arrival, in what amounts to a diabolical contradiction. These two powerful figures of Australian colonial history are forever in conflict over the rich prize of terra nullius (nobody’s land).

Natives on the River (after Glover)

2016
Hand gilt 24ct, lithograph on cotton rag paper
76 x 100cm (paper)

“Natives on the Ouse River (John Glover, 1838) stands in marked contrast to the actual situation of the traditional owners of Ouse River country – the Braylwunyer people of the Big River nation – which was one of dispossession and violence at the hands of the colonists.” – AGNSW Archive

Yellow Peril (aka Vault, Ron Robertson-Swann, 1978) stands foreign and timeless in a Glover landscape (John Glover, 1838). In the foreground a dying Burke and Wills (John Longstaff, 1907) stare helplessly out. Glover’s imagined noble paradise torn apart by ambition.

“I believe it is my best work so far and part of my ambition to be one of the best artists of my generation.” – Ron Robertson-Swann (The Sun, 1981). Vault was unceremoniously removed from City Square after 6 months, in July 1981.

In 1860 Burke and Wills led a failed expedition to cross Australia. Arriving at the ‘DIG’ tree just hours after their support team had unexpectedly departed; they died alone at Cooper Creek. The third figure, King, was saved by the Yandruwandha people.

Mine – Yours (after Dance)

2016
Lithograph on cotton rag paper
70 x 70cm (paper)

Cook sits fiercely stabbing at a map (Nathaniel Dance 1775). His look is commanding yet the otherworldly landscape suggests that he is anything but at home. He is a refugee in a foreign and fearful place. An 18th century icon cast adrift, foolishly dividing the spoils.

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