The Sound of the Sky
Edited by Daena Murray, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
In the Northern Territory, the weight of the earth is balanced by the impact of the sky. Here on the oldest continent, while the earth is firm, sound carries over vast distances and powerful forces are borne by the sky in the form of cyclones, meteors, lightning, dust storms, bombs and aircraft - phenomena which loom large in Territory experience and myth. Much has been written and spoken about the vastness of the sky in remote Australia: the differences in colour and shade the sun makes, the weighty presence of it, even the 'loudness' of its silence. This book presents a visual record of Euro-Australian artists'' responses to the Northern Territory: its land and people and its resonating sky.
In retrieving recognition for the significance of the Territory in Australian art, the book opens a window onto a hidden history that relays and reflects upon the transformative role of visual imagery in the process of cross-cultural exchange.
"As the first comprehensive survey of visual responses to the Northern Territory by European artists over a period of two hundred years, The Sound of the Sky has the potential to make a significant contribution to understanding and knowledge about Australian art." [Dr Sylvia Kleinert 2006]
"Daena Murray has written a book against the times – a history of the white (not black) art of the Northern Territory. But the way these artists have seen the Territory tells us a lot, not only about the original inhabitants of this country but those who came to displace them. The Territory has for a long time stood in for Australia itself, the frontier beyond which the real country supposedly begins. Murray analyses the idea of the Northern Territory as the 'last frontier' in fresh and surprising ways, in the end proposing the Territory as a place where reconciliation, or at least negotiation, between European and Aboriginal might be possible. In this, she truly does show how the Territory is, in her words, 'both the very old and the very new'."[Dr Rex Butler 2006]
At the time of writing, Daena Murray had been Curator of Visual Arts at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory for 13 years and had a 25-year research and publication history in Australian art and history. Her PhD thesis, ‘The Northern Territory in Australian art’ was currently being examined.
"a literary stylist of great beauty”
[Nicholas Rothwell, The Australian, 6 April 2006]
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