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'Tree and landscape', painted by Eddie Mabo


'Tree and landscape', painted by Eddie Mabo

Object information

Physical description

A pen, ink and watercolour painting on paper, depicting a tree in the foreground of a hilly landscape. Words in blue ink beneath the picture read "Ink Drawing + Wash.". The work on paper has been adhered onto a larger sheet of paper. The reverse of the picture has another sheet of paper adhered to it. There are green blocks painted of the paper adhered to the reverse.

Statement of significance

The Bonita Mabo collection comprises four artworks created by the late Eddie Koiki Mabo. 'Dragon heads' and 'Still life with jar and bowl' - both watercolours on paper, were completed by Mabo as a teenager. 'Tree in landscape' - a pen, ink and watercolour on paper, and 'Dark palm trees' - a watercolour on paper, were completed by Mabo as an adult.

Eddie Koiki Mabo (1936 1992), a Torres Strait Islander from Murray Island, was a prominent Indigenous activist, best known for his role during the 1980s and 1990s land rights case 'Mabo and Others v. Queensland'. This ten year battle culminated in the High Court of Australia's 1992 landmark ruling which established that a form of Native title had existed in Australia prior to British settlement. This historic decision ruled that Murray Islanders held a system of land ownership at the time of colonisation that has continued to the present day, meaning that Islanders retain customary ownership and title to those lands. This decision overturned the legal doctrine of Terra Nullius, the basis for the legitimacy of settler claims over Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands that had existed since 1788. This ruling remains one of the most significant events in the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land rights activism. These four artworks are significant both as personal objects created by Mabo, and as objects which relate to his attachment to Murray Island.

Object information

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