I have been lucky enough to experience two special exhibitions lately. One is called "Wild Australia" and it showcased the physiques of Aboriginal men. This was an idea of a man called Archibald Meston who considered himself to be an amateur anthropologist and a spokesperson for the Aboriginals he was in contact with. He was influenced by the classical Greek body and he wanted to showcase the Aboriginals physiques as being equally impressive and noteworthy. The show, which took part in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane was called "Wild Australia" and was photographed by some of the early photographers in 1892 - 1893. Meston was not a great business man, and rather patronising to the Aboriginals who he regarded as little more than noble savages.The show did not survive but what did survive were the pictures of the show and the men who were painstakingly identified and linked to families in the area. He became Queensland's advisor on Aboriginal Communities and is remembered for his efforts in writing the first draft of the Aboriginal Protection Act of 1897.
Here are some of the impressive pictures of the show which is on at the University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus in the Anthropology Museum.
The second exhibition is called "Terrain" and is on in the Gallery of Modern Art on South Bank. It showcases the most beautiful fibre art collected from Aboriginals all over Australia who have not only used traditional methods of basket weaving and matting but have also gone on to make innovative and appealing art from them.
There is so much wealth and wonder to be gained from considering Australia's first people.