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date: 20 August 2019

Barak, William locked

(b Bushy Creek, Victoria, c. 1824; d Coranderrk, Aug 15, 1903).
  • Jeanette Hoorn

Extract

(b Bushy Creek, Victoria, c. 1824; d Coranderrk, Aug 15, 1903).

Australian Aboriginal painter and leader of the Wurundjeri people of Woi-Worung. His ancestral country was that surrounding the Yarra River and Port Phillip in Melbourne. He was related to the signatories of Batman’s Treaty of 1835 in which the Woi-Worung are thought to have ceded their land to the British Crown. Educated by Presbyterian missionaries, Barak fought a succession of governments who acted in the interests of pastoralists, in an effort to maintain the land that had been ‘granted’ to them at Coranderrk, near Healesville in Victoria.

Barak drew and painted in a figurative style on cardboard and thick paper, in charcoal, pencil, ochre, natural dyes and watercolour wash. His paintings detail the ceremonial lives of his community with many works showing the configurations associated with corroborees. Native animals including lyrebirds emus, snakes and echidnas are prominently represented in his compositions. A feature of his pictures is the extraordinary detail of the patterning found in the individual costumes of Wurundjeri and, in particular, the fine possum cloaks worn by them. Few of these original garments still exist but Barak’s paintings have inspired contemporary indigenous artists such as Treahna Hamm (...

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