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Language learned, culture regained

acrylic & oil on Tasmanian oak

Totem series

The painting and sculptures of Ian Waldron’s Totem series reveal the sophistication and elegance that this North Queensland artist is capable of rendering to the man-made expression of organic material. The most exotic yet sumptuous elements of the natural world have been extracted here to present something ethereal and super-real. These works strongly parallel the traditional painting of totems, a practice that was part of the maintenance of harmony and equilibrium.

Painting continues to be an integral part of asserting identity for Indigenous Australians in post-traditional life. Equally important is connection with land and the physical elements. The title Totem reflects the artist’s desire to explore the relationship between the physicalities of land and the cultural beliefs and traditions of Aboriginal Australians. One of the most important species of flora on the artist’s traditional country on the Gulf of Carpentaria is the Bloodwood tree, a eucalyptus encased in a thick, rough bark. The design in this painting reflects the natural shape and textures of the Bloodwood tree, a hardwood often used for making didgeridoos. The tree gained its name from the red sap that flows from it when cut. Colour is used to represent the various stages of growth and change in the tree through the seasons.

Excerpt from Totem series exhibition statement, Katrina Chapman 2003

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