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Centre for Art and Travel Workshop: Investigating the Archive - page 9 / 11





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Mountains, its scenery generally resisted being presented as landscape until, really, the later 1830s, in the work of Conrad Martens, who was still obliged to work very hard in managing pictorial data to this end.  As Glover intimates, this was not the case with Van Diemen's Land.  As early as 1808 John Lewin was reworking a picturesque view of Cataract Gorge near Launceston by a G.P. Harris as a souvenir for Colonel William Paterson to take back with him to England.  People sailing up the Derwent would often compare its scenes with the Lake District; while, in the 1830s, skilled amateurs such as Thomas Evans Chapman, made fine picturesque landscapes of its terrain.  Chapman was anticipated in the later 1820s by colonial auditor, T.G.W.B. Boyes, and here we witness a fascinating phenomenon.  Boyes's New South Welsh watercolours reveal pictorial confusion.  In Tasmania he paints landscapes.  If not a crossing of the rubicon, it is, perhaps crossing the brook, and we need to ask why.

One explanation I tentatively offer emerged from conversations with my friend David Hansen, and it's to do with absences. In Tasmania convicts were not prominently visible en masse but individually assigned to farmers such as John Glover, and therefore potentially less disruptive of the pictorial vision – much as the Tasmanians themselves, in contrast to Australians - were effectively invisible.  This is germane to landscape painting back in Britain.  The meanings and roles of figures in landscapes have generated a great deal of critical heat since the early 1980s and David Solkin's Wilson.  The Landscape of Reaction, and, of course, John Barrell's Dark Side of the Landscape.  The curators of the 1991 Constable show at the Tate Gallery weighed in against Barrell's argument that Constable had major problems managing the proletariat both pictorially and in life, by pointing to the recently-discovered Wheatfield of 1816, in which there were a few child

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