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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia born 1960

  • Spain from 1996

A fallen monarch 1987
Collection Title: "The Crossing"
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: textiles, cotton embroidery threads, found wood mount and frame, Perspex

Primary Insc: inscribed reverse frame l.r. pencil, "Narelle Jubelin 1987" inscribed reverse l.r. fibre tipped pen, 'Narelle Jubelin 1987. A fallen monarch from "The Crossing"'
Dimensions: 73.2 h x 63.2 w cm 24.4 h
Acknowledgement: Gift of the Philip Morris Arts Grant 1988
Accession No: NGA 88.279

Displayed in a wide, hand carved oval frame, the subject of this image is a large fallen tree (a king or queen of the forest – a monarch) on top of which are two men. They are not woodcutters but well dressed tourists, one holding a walking stick and the other a tree fern frond, both men positioned carefully to provide a sense of dimension to the once tall timber. The original reference for the work is a black and white photograph of the Victorian rainforest taken by Nicholas Caire around 1887.

A century after the original photograph, Jubelin transformed the image using her signature petit point embroidery to include this work in an exhibition entitled The Crossing. The 1987 exhibition included works with references to popular tourist locations from the Dandenongs to the Blue Mountains. Jubelin has also transformed the intent of the original image from a moment of heroic pride – man felling a giant – to one representing a sad loss, the destruction of the natural environment.

The decorative frames and detailed embroidery of Jubelin’s work draw the viewer in to share a closeness and intimacy with the image. The frames, carved by amateur craftspeople, were often the pastime of Victorian and Edwardian ladies as was the use of petit point.

Jubelin’s subtle colour interpretation of the original black-and-white photographic image is carefully considered. Jubelin explains her use of DMC mercerised cotton thread:

The threads are almost all variated in colour – in these works I use 4 strands of cotton, blended as I see fit to produce a varied colour. Thus any stitch may be from 4 different shades through 3 strands of one blended with one other or simply 4 strands of a pure colour.1

At the time of purchasing this work, the National Gallery also commissioned Jubelin to produce two accompanying works. Entitled A dangerous position and A BoxBrownie, both refer to a similar Victorian tourist theme as The fallen monarch and are also derived from early photographs.

Ron Ramsey 2002

1Narelle Jubelin, letter to Darryl Collins, Australian National gallery, February 1988.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002