Wall plaque

Production date
1952-1960
Country
Australia
State/Province
Victoria
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Object Detail


Description
Round wooden plate, turned, decorated with a portrait of an Aboriginal man in black, white and brown, with 'WIRRIN' painted bottom right in black.
Classification
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander plate
CH classification CIVIC MEMENTOES Souvenirs
Production place
Measurements
Dia. 201 mm
Media/Materials description
Wood
Signature/Marks
'WIRRIN'
Souvenir from/Brisbane
$5-/EA/AS IS/AOI
MADE/AUSTRALIA/BY/Bill Onus
Another in a series/by/BILL T. ONUS/Made in Australia by/Aborigines, depicting/their Native Folklore.
History and use
This object is from the Glenn Cooke collection of Aboriginal-themed design. In 1999 Glenn Cooke donated his collection of over 1300 domestic and souvenir wares to Queensland Museum. Together the collection provides detailed examples of how Aboriginal art and design have been adopted and reproduced in Australian popular culture. The Glenn Cooke collection dates from the 1940s, when Aboriginal design was first embraced by ‘Australiana’ industries, up until the present day. While some of the objects in the collection were made by Indigenous people, the vast majority were not. These items therefore raise a number of questions about authorship, authenticity and appropriation in Indigenous-themed design in Australia.

William ‘Bill’ Onus and his brother Eric established ‘Aboriginal Enterprise Novelties’ in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria in 1952. Bill adopted similar imagery to that which appeared in mass-produced indigenised design; however, he used such works to draw attention to his political work with the ‘Committee for Aboriginal Citizen Rights’ and the ‘Australian Aborigines League.’

The image on this plate has been copied from photographs of Gwoja Tjungurrayi (1895-1965), a Warlpiri-Anmatyerre man photographed by Roy Dunstan and published in the magazine 'Walkabout' in 1935 and 1950. This image became known as ‘One Pound Jimmy’ and was reproduced by many artists and decorators.
Registration number
E20608

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