Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

The Coming of the First Missionary by Dick Roughsey

2005.0050.0001

The Coming of the First Missionary by Dick Roughsey

Object information

Physical description

A painting rendered in gouache on Masonite board, in a gilt and varnished wooden frame. It depicts eleven indigenous figures, including men, women and adolescent children, who are wearing red aprons, and white arm and head bands. The four men are holding long red spears and black spear throwers. They are standing on grass in the foreground and staring out to sea at a small white sailing barque on a pale blue ocean. "Goobalathaldin" is in black the lower right hand corner of the painting and "81" is in the lower left hand corner. An "Artworld" paper sticker has been stuck to the back of the Masonite board.

Statement of significance

The Dick Roughsey (Goobalathaldin) 'The coming of the first missionary' (1981) painting depicts Aboriginal people in the foreground observing a schooner in the background. The painting features eleven Indigenous figures, including men, women and adolescent children holding spears in a grassy foreground and staring out to sea at a small sailing barque rendered in white on a pale blue ocean. The signature of 'Goobalathaldin' is written on the lower left hand side of the painting.

Dick Roughsey (Goobalathaldin) OBE, (c.1920-1985), Lardil painter, children's book author and illustrator, was born on Mornington Island (Qld). The painting is a personal representation of an event repeated across coastal Australia - that is, the first contact between European missionaries and Aboriginal people. The simplicity of the Dick Roughsey image conveys a number of perspectives, therefore the object provides a strong medium with which to elaborate on first contact. The life and work of its creator, Dick Roughsey - highly-esteemed in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike - provides an interesting biography of a prominent Indigenous Australian.

Object information

Back to top