DETAIL : Jimmy BAKER 'Katatjita' 2006 synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Courtesy of Marshall Arts Aboriginal Fine Art Gallery, © Jimmy Baker
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) - Installation
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MELLOR, Danie
Australia 1971
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) - Installation 2007
Sculpture
Installation
installation, mixed media, kangaroo skin, ceramic, synthetic eyeballs, wood and birds
dimensions variable 400.0 (h) x 760.0 (w) x 760.0 (d) cm
Courtesy of the artist
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A wonderland of truly wondrous things

That nowhere else upon this Earth are found;

Of reptiles rare, and birds that have no wings,

And animals that live deep in the ground;

And those poor simple children of the Earth,

(A disappearing race you here may meet),

Whom whites have driven from their land of birth

To regions still untrod by booted feet.1

Danie Mellor’s (re)creation of this gleefully contrived never-never land is realised in his phantasmagorical tableau 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, which is the kind of diorama that should have been on display in the social history museums of the past. Mellor’s magical installation conjures up flights of fancy that might have been the imaginations of those terrified and ignorant initial ‘boat people’.

Mellor’s creatures are manufactured from an amalgam of the man-made and the natural: real macropod paws and ears, and smaller marsupial possum paws and ears adorn life-size fibreglass models encrusted with a mosaic of shattered blue and white willow pattern Spode crockery – with one red and white willow pattern oddity.2 A motley flock of stuffed native birds – a giant emu, an owl, brilliantly coloured parrots, including hybrids – and a tree cloaked in mosaic rather than bark conjure metaphors of the hybridity that most of contemporary Indigenous Australians experience everyday.

Notes

1. AG Bolam, The trans-Australian wonderland, Melbourne: The McCubbin-James Press, 1927.

2. Spode is an English manufacturer of pottery and porcelain, based in Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, c. 1770.