Queen Victoria versus "King Billy": Images as History
In Visual Ephemera (2000), Anita Callaway makes the assertion that our non-indigenous cultural beginnings in the nineteenth century will be found in the often transient popular arts, rather than in a fruitless search for great oil paintings to compete against the European High-Art paradigm. In this paper I will extend the scope of Callaway's study to encompass the field of popular illustration and cartooning. My analysis draws from the graphic production of the most prolific image maker in nineteenth century Australia, Montagu Scott (1835 - 1909). In particular, I make a comparison of his illustrated work of the 1860s with examples produced by him in the 1890s. The theme I will explore is as topical as it ever was - the relationship between Australia and Britain as it is made manifest by Australian attitudes to the British Monarch or her representative in Australia. Since an examination of this relationship is essentially a chronicle of the construction of an Australian identity distinct from Europe, other sub-texts naturally emerge, including the use made by Anglo-Australians of their ideas about, and images of, indigenous Australians. Even though my examples are restricted to a dozen images, I intend these to characterize the richness of the data in popular graphic discourse. By implication this paper also presents a model, if not methodology, for extraction of ideological significance from popular images.
ACUADS Survey: Current art and design research and practice