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National Museum of Australia

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No.1 Hard 146 black charcoal pencil

1993.0100.0108

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No.1 Hard 146 black charcoal pencil

Object information

Physical description

A black pencil with a charcoal lead. It is short in length and the tip has been sharpened with a blade. Imprinted in silver on the pencil is the partial inscription "No. 1 Hard 146. J.S. Staedtler Carbon..." as the pencil has been sharpened to this point.

Statement of significance

A collection of 101 sketches drawn in 1952-53 by Noelle Sandwith, an English artist visiting Australia who was intent on drawing 'unusual subjects' and set her sights on the Australian outback. A wide variety of groups and people within the Australian community are examined through the sketches. These include Aboriginal people and their involvement in missions, life on the outskirts of town, incarceration and the role of the Protectorate. Post-war immigration is represented through the involvement of Greeks and Italians running cafes in small country towns. Community groups representing rural and outback people such as the Australian Inland Mission, Salvation Army, Country Women's Association and the Flying Doctor's Service also rate a significant mention. Other issues and people who are explored include Afghan cameleers, social events such as rodeos and drinking, life in the shearing shed and the role of the local police to name a few.
On the recommendation of the Australian Inland Mission, Ms Sandwith set out for south-western Queensland and down the Birdsville track to Marree in South Australia. She undertook this journey on her own, allowing her the freedom to travel where she wanted and to record the lives of people in the outback as she viewed it. Great changes occurred in Australia in the 1950s. Society changed relatively quickly with the influx of immigrants following WWII. Policies of assimilation were at their height and this extended to both the indigenous people of Australia and the newest groups of immigrants. This period of contact between the various sectors of the Australian community is one which of great interest to us today. The sketches provide a view of outback society at this time and chronicle the relationships between various groups and people. There was great interest in the treatment of Australia's Indigenous inhabitants during this period. The sketches provide a personal view of the perceptions of European people towards Aboriginal people. Several of the sketches slip into caricature when dealing with Aboriginal people and this also provides us with Sandwith's view. Several poignant comments are made regarding the lifestyle and expectations of Aboriginal people. Whilst these seem dated now, they are powerful reminders of the attitudes which prevailed at the time of sketching.

Object information

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