Roslyn Russell, Kylie Winkworth
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2010
ISBN 97 80977544363 (pbk)
Exhibitions and interpretation
Statements of significance can be used to inform the text of an exhibition label or a catalogue statement, and can guide how the item is physically presented in the display setting.
Significance of an installation in a travelling art exhibition
Danie Mellor, The contrivance of a vintage Wonderland (A magnificent flight of curious fancy for science buffs, a china ark of seductive whimsy, a divinely ordered special attraction, upheld in multifariousness) 2007
Installation, mixed media, kangaroo skin, ceramic, synthetic eyeballs, wood and birds
Dimensions variable 400.0 x 760.0 x 760.0 cm
Reproduced courtesy of the artist and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Danie Mellor is an Indigenous artist whose appealing china-encrusted kangaroos and other marsupials, or seemingly whimsical drawings of native Australian animals and Indigenous people juxtaposed with the material culture of the colonising power, make profound comments on the colonial project and its representation in museums and other cultural contexts.
Mellor has chosen chinaware produced for global export by the British ceramics manufacturer, Spode, both for its imagery of fantastic landscapes in which he incongruously situates Indigenous people and animals, and to use shards of the china itself to create sculptures of kangaroos and other Australian native fauna in his phantasmagorical scenarios. These are reminiscent of dioramas of native animals and birds to be found in natural history museums, themselves a creation of the European Enlightenment and its scientific project of classifying and collecting the products of the natural world.
Mellor trained as an artist in Australia and the United Kingdom. His work is held in public and private collections around Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Art Gallery of South Australia, Canberra Museum and Gallery, New Parliament House Art Collection and a number of regional art galleries and university collections. This installation was chosen as one of ninety-five works of the original show of 147 works by thirty Indigenous artists to travel around Australia for nearly two years as part of Culture Warriors: National Contemporary Indigenous Art Triennial, developed by the National Gallery of Australia to mark its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2007.
Mellor's installation is significant for its aesthetically satisfying and innovative treatment of the familiar imagery of Australia's native fauna, and its commentary on the British colonial era and its cultural practices.
Significance in action
Significance assessment applications and case studies
- Conservation treatment
- Collection risk assessment
- Collection care
- Copying and digitisation
- Collection analysis and policy development
- In situ collections
- Shared collections
- Exhibitions and interpretation
- Online exhibitions
- Online access and education
- Assessing cultural heritage website quality
- Nominating to a register
- Applying for a grant
- Advocacy and resourcing
- Fundraising and promotion
- Thematic studies and regional surveys
- Collections mapping
- Significance training