William BARAK, Corroboree Enlarge 1 /1

William BARAK

Wurundjeri/Woiwurung peoples

Victoria, Australia 1824 – 1903

Corroboree 1895 Place made: Coranderrk, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: drawings, graphite; charcoal; natural earth pigments; paper drawing in charcoal and natural earth pigments, over black pencil Support: prepared linen (fragment of bag used for storing religious texts)

Primary Insc: no inscriptions.
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: inscribed upper left-hand corner in iron gal ink, 'drawn / by / Barak / last of the Yarra tribe and given to Mrs G.M. Davies, 30th December 1895'. inscribed upper centre in iron gal ink, 'Corroboree'.
Dimensions: image 60.0 h x 76.4 w cm sheet 60.0 h x 76.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2009
Accession No: NGA 2009.164
Provenance:
  • Acquired by Mrs G.M. Davies, from the artist 30 December 1895 (see inscription). Davies was the owner of the property 'Fron' located near the Maroodah Dam, where Barak is known to have camped.
  • Colection of Mr Alan Davies.
  • Sotheby's 'Aboriginal , African and Oceanic Art, Sydney, 9 November 1998, lot 103.
  • Private collection.
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from Sotheby's sale AU0729 Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 20 July 2009, lot 13.

This is one of the largest and most impressive drawings produced by William Barak as a way of passing on his knowledge of traditional culture. In the top half of the composition, six Aboriginal men with traditional body painting perform a dance—the repetition of their forms, with arms and legs widely spread and bent, is frieze-like. The lower half of the drawing shows a group of people in elaborately decorated possum-skin cloaks sitting and clapping. A lone man standing at the centre of the composition is the focus of their attention as he dictates the rhythm for the dance by clapping together two boomerangs.

Andrew Sayers, who published the first study of drawings by Aboriginal people in the nineteenth century,[1] explains Barak’s importance. During his lifetime, Barak experienced enormous cultural change. He was a child when Europeans began to make pastoral incursions into the Port Phillip district of Victoria in the mid 1830s. In 1863, he was one of the first people who resettled at the Aboriginal Station at Coranderrk, outside Melbourne. Barak had hereditary status as clan elder of his people (the Wurundjeri) and was one of the leaders of the Coranderrk community. When the settlement was threatened by competing pastoral interests, Barak led a determined opposition to any move: ‘Yarra,’ he said, ‘my father’s country’.[2] He lived at Coranderrk until his death in 1903, by which time he was one of the few people in Victoria with a firsthand knowledge of the traditional language, songs and religious law of the original inhabitants of the Yarra Valley.

Roger Butler

[1] A Sayers, Aboriginal artists of the nineteenth century, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994, p 15.

[2] ibid.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

William Barak’s Corroboree is one of the largest and most impressive of the drawings he produced as a way of passing on his knowledge of Aboriginal culture. In the top half of the composition men holding boomerangs and clapsticks are dancing in ceremony. Their bodies are painted with clan designs and they wear long pubic covers. Barak has depicted the forms of the dancers in a repetitive frieze-like arrangement, with their arms raised and legs spread. In the lower part of the composition, seated participants wear elaborately decorated possum-skin cloaks, while the man standing at their centre beats time with two boomerangs.

During his lifetime Barak experienced enormous cultural change. He was a child when Europeans began to make pastoral incursions into the Port Phillip district of Victoria in the mid 1830s. In 1863 he was one of the first people to resettle at the self-sufficient Aboriginal Station at Coranderrk outside Melbourne. He had hereditary status as clan elder of his people, the Wurundjeri, and was one of the leaders of the Coranderrk community. When the settlement was threatened by competing pastoral interests, Barak led a determined opposition to any move.

Corroboree is drawn on the back of a printed list of ‘Pictorial Gospel Readings … for Holy Week’, adding a touch of poignancy to the work with its reference to the religion of the colonisers.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

巴拉克·威廉 (BARAK, William)
《狂欢会》(Corroboree)
1895年
木炭与天然色料,铅笔绘成
60.00(高) x 76.40(宽)厘米(图)
60.00(高) x 76.40(宽)厘米(架)
2009年购买
2009.164

这是威廉·巴拉克创作的最大尺度、给人印象最为深刻的画作之一,借以传递他关于传统文化的知识。画面上半部分,六名绘有传统人体彩绘的原住民男子在表演舞蹈;他们的动作整齐划一,手臂和双腿大张,呈弯曲状,看起来像饰带。画面下部是一群人,身着装饰精巧的袋貂皮斗篷,坐在地上鼓掌。画面中间独独站着一名男子,他用两支飞去来器相互敲击为舞蹈指挥舞蹈节奏,是大家注意的焦点。

安德鲁·塞耶斯(Andrew Sayers)首度发表了关于十九世纪原住民绘画作品的研究成果,解释了巴拉克的重要地位。巴拉克一生经历了巨大的文化变迁。1830年代,欧洲人开始对维多利亚州菲利普港地区实施牧师宗教入侵时,他还是一个孩子。1863年,他是首批搬回墨尔本外柯兰德克原住民站定居的人之一。巴拉克是部落(乌朗杰瑞[Wurundjeri])的世袭长老,也是柯兰德克社区的领袖之一。当定居点受到不同教会利益冲突威胁时,巴拉克领导族人坚决反对任何迁居:“亚拉(Yarra),”他解释道,“是我祖辈生活的部落”。他居住在柯兰德克直至1903年去世,至此,他是维多利亚州为数不多掌握了亚拉谷原始居民传统语言、歌谣和宗教法第一手资料的人。

Roger Butler
罗杰·巴特勒


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra