Mists and Shadows - PhMuseum

Mists and Shadows

Rebecca Murray

2020 - Ongoing

Australia; Victoria, Australia

Multiple stories and connections lie deep within the landscape. Some narratives are known and celebrated, while others are embedded beneath the surface, or reduced to the shadows.

Australia’s identity is largely founded on selective colonial legacies, predicated by the myth of Terra Nullius.The claiming, taming and exploitation of the Australian landscape is both enshrined in folklore and etched upon the continent.

‘Mists and shadows’ is a personal yet broader story. Like millions of Australians, I am the descendant of early European settlers. My great-great grandparents ‘selected’ land from the fledgling government in Australia in the 1800s (land never ceded by First Nations People). A condition of lease and ownership of this property in the picturesque Yarra Ranges east of Melbourne, as elsewhere, was to clear it of native flora and fauna. The indiscriminate clearing and modification of the Australian bush was not just seen as necessary for survival, productivity and prosperity, but as a moral and national duty.

Remnants from these days remain imprinted upon the landscape and in the hearts and minds of those who continue to benefit from these legacies and those who continue to suffer. With a disconnect between our actions and consequences, a country that’s hugely fire prone and vulnerable to climate change, a government in denial and a planet desperately needing swift and collective change, where do we go from here? Can we by looking back, understand more about our present predicament? And are we brave enough to throw off our parochial shackles and let go of the legacies that no longer serve us well?

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Footnotes:

• 19th century camera-less printing techniques were engaged and merged with the 21st for this photographic series.

• The Yarra Ranges was known as the land of ‘mists and shadows’ by Kulin Nations people.

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  • Kulin Country.

  • My great-great grandfather, Edward Greaves Smith.

  • Bracken.

  • Map of part of "New Holland".

  • Saw triptych.

  • Diverted watercourse.

  • Bunjil.

  • Deep in the forest. Yarra Ranges.


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