Tasmanian Landscape Memorial

Tasmanian Landscape Memorial Painting by Gary Madjibarreli

This work is a representation of European arrival in Tasmania immediately before black and white contact.

The work captures a moment in time. A normal day.

Telling the story of the Tasmanian landscape at a pivotal point in time.

Top left of painting: Crow

High on the ridge a crow ( storyteller ) can be seen alerting two indigenous inhabitants to the first sighting of a European ship entering the waterway. The crow is both a storyteller and the one who buries the bodies of the dead.

Centre of Painting: Sheep dogs of the sea

The sheep dogs of the sea herding catch into nets oblivious to the approaching vessel.

Top and bottom right of painting:

The scenes depicting the everyday communal life of their fellow tribesmen and women.

The settlement that followed was all about human survival. The survival of all parties.


Lower left of painting: Hollow log coffin ceremony

Hollow logs are symbolic of each party involved after settlement. These represent events that came after settlement.

Individual memorials to all parties:

  1. Convicts
  1. English settlers
  1. Aborigines (seen left to right).

In creating this work there is an intent to show the normal activity of a day seemingly like any other, it represents extermination and extinction; providing the eye with those first moments of recognition and sets a scene that enhances the imagination and encourages contemplation.


This artwork in ochres, white clay and magnesium, painted in Tasmania during a recent period of painting in residence, tells the story of the Tasmanian landscape and the memorial to all parties. It is also consistent with a broader view of Indigenous history around the world.

A story told on canvas by an indigenous artist, who is himself a tribal dancer and burial man.

Artist: Gary Madjibarreli

Tribe: Wurrkiganydar, homeland Gaarttji, North East Arnhem Land, NT Australia

Ochres,white clay, magnesium, PVA glue as a binder, on canvas.