Curator: Suzette Wearne
The gothic tradition—dealing with alienation, violence, and a powerful, if imaginary, oppressor—held great appeal for nineteenth century Australian writers wishing to convey their experience of the ‘new world’. The University’s collection of early landscape painting shows that our most celebrated artists were not free of anxieties about the natural environment and the ghosts that haunt it, indeed many could not escape them.
Weird melancholy brings together works from the nineteenth century to the contemporary era. The exhibition reveals how artists are attempting to confront the ‘weirdness’ of their home and in doing so engaged tropes of the colonial gothic tradition. From Eugene von Guerard’s meticulously botanical forests, to Hugh Ramsay’s moody portraits; from the oppressive verticality of Fred Williams’ gum trees to Louise Hearman’s spectral presences and otherworldly landscapes, Weird melancholy uncovers traces of the gothic and demonstrates its persistence, over the centuries, in Australian visual art.