Stored in Box 25 at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is material gathered in 1964 at Nungu (West Point), Lutruwita, by archaeologist Rhys Jones.
That box contains bone and stone tools, and pierced shells, believed to be from a Palawa burial pit. Wrapped in cigarette packets, match boxes and paper roll, the juxtaposition of the ancient artefacts and the brash red, white and silver packaging is poignant.

Jones’s archaeological work in Lutruwita provided valuable information proving Aboriginal habitation for tens of thousands of years. Years later, the Palawa prohibited Jones from further research of Aboriginal Tasmania due to his documentary The Last Tasmanian. That film focused on the end of the Tasmanian Aboriginal race and culture, and suggested that Palawa extinction was inevitable with or without colonisation.

Reportedly, Jones never fully understood why he was excluded. In frustration, he once exclaimed “I gave them their history!” In some ways he did, but through his film, Jones denied our existence, our recent history and our future.

My artworks represent the artefacts in Box 25 and the explored sites at Nungu. The series references Jones’s role and the incongruous colours of his packaging. Red and white paint is worked with charcoal I found on Country at Nungu. An excerpt from Jones’s documentary completes the exhibit.

The found charcoal represents Country, the ongoing cycle of renewal at Nungu, and the ever-present spirits of the Old Ones, whose treasures are kept in brightly coloured boxes in a museum storeroom.

See Collection

  • West Point Lighthouse

    West Point Lighthouse

  • Nungu Shell Scatter 1

    Nungu Shell Scatter 1

  • Maireener Shell Necklace

    Maireener Shell Necklace

  • I Gave Them Their History

    I Gave Them Their History

  • Old Treasures

    Old Treasures

  • Nungu Shell Scatter 2

    Nungu Shell Scatter 2

  • On Country at Nungu

    On Country at Nungu