Victoria, Australia 1824 – 1903
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)
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, 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’. 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.
 A Sayers, Aboriginal artists of the nineteenth century, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994, p 15.
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)
60.00(高) x 76.40(宽)厘米(图)
60.00(高) x 76.40(宽)厘米(架)
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra