Wednesday, December 10, 2014


When  first glimpsed  from  afar  in  part  of  the NT Museum and  Art Gallery  in  Darwin  it seemed  to be an exhibition of  Chinese  artwork .  For example , this  framed  cameo  gave  the  appearance  of  a   Chinese Willow Pattern.  It  is , however, nothing  so  mundane ; it is another striking example of  the work  by  acclaimed  artist  Dr  Danie  Mellor  in a travelling  show , Exotic Lies, Sacred  Ties . There  is  much  blue  and white  in his paintings , inspired by his liking for Spode  china , popular in England in the  early 1800s.  Additionally, he makes use of  Swarovski crystals  on  the  borders which adds to the impact.
His mixed media pieces have a mythical quality and depict early Australian settings  with animals and Aboriginal  tribesmen . Born in Mackay  of indigenous and European heritage, he grew up in Scotland, travelled to South Africa and  came back to Australia. With an Australian father and  American grandfather , his   mother is of  Irish  and  Indigenous descent .

After  winning the  26th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Art Award in 2009, the babbling, bombastic   columnist,  Andrew Bolt, who once worked for the ALP and  was friendly with a Darwin belly dancer ,  took  issue with him entering the competition and wrote ,  "This white university lecturer, with his nice Canberra studio, has by winning pushed aside real draw-in-the-dirt Aboriginal artists such as Dorothy Napangardi, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson and Walangkura Napanangka, who had also entered and could really have used that cash and recognition."Bolt  later lost  a racial discrimination  case brought by nine indigenous Australians ( not including Mellor ) over articles  that criticised  fair skinned  indigenous people , including  the  post which  had  attacked  Mellor .
It has  been pointed out that Mellor says he  is not concerned with the definition of Aboriginality, but with  historical interaction between cultures and the  re-imagining of  history.