Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ochre and rust

Philip Jones is the author of Ochre and dust: artefacts and encounters on Australian frontiers, an account of how investigating the provenance of an artefact can provide information about a person, place or incident from the past.

The book investigates nine artefacts starting with Master Blackburn's whip. The whip, housed in the South Australian Museum, consists of an Aboriginal club and four knotted lashes. The article provides information about David Blackburn, Master of the Supply, a ship in the First Fleet. Letters written by David Blackburn to members of his family are now held in the Mitchell Library. Looking at information from the letters as well as journals of men such as of Tench and Dawes who recounted events of the early settlement the author surmises the use of the origin of this artefact, a combination of two culture. As well as being one of the few artefacts of the first convict settlement in Sydney it also is represents the European contact with the Aborigines. Like Dawes, Blackburn was interested in the lives and languages of the Aborigines and helped collect words of the language. Much of the article looks at the first contact between the Aborigines and the convicts, soldiers and sailors and the information is similar to that used by Kate Grenville in her novel, - The Lieutenant .

Other articles include Broken shields, The magic garb of Daisy Bates and Namatjira and the Jesus plaque. The artefacts described originated in different regions of Australia. This well researched book is well illustrated and has extensive notes and bibliography.

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