“I’m not a confrontational artist, and didn’t want to push a political point. I wanted to create something based on my own experiences and knowledge, not borrowing facts from others, and acknowledge what happened on these now silent landscapes.”
Dr Anneke Silver will celebrate her connection with the land while seeking to express her new awareness of the histories of the landscapes she paints in her upcoming exhibition, Acknowledge, at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts.
The exhibition features landscapes which, while beautiful on their own, hold darker secrets.
“This exhibition was going to be really joyful, about a shared love of country, but then I realised the truth of what happened – a lot of these places were the sites of mass killings of Indigenous people, and somehow I felt I could not stay silent about that,” Anneke said.
“One of the three main paintings features Bladensburg National Park, near Winton. I’ve camped there a number of times and, while it’s a beautiful place, there’s always been something eerie about it. It wasn’t until later that I found out over 200 Aboriginal people were killed there.
“I know it was a long time ago and we have progressed, but I find it really hard to deal with the disregard for cultural knowledge and the callous way entire communities disappeared.”
Anneke’s exhibition packs a lot of emotion because it also showcases her love and connection with Australian landscapes.
“Australia is the first place I have felt these connections to land. I grew up in the Netherlands during the war, and it was at a very early age that I realised urban life cut off from nature had no future when push came to shove.
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a great longing to be with nature, and had an admiration for cultures that live with nature and survive within the limitations of their environment, which Aboriginal people have done for over 60,000 years.
“I can’t speak as an Indigenous person, because I am not [Indigenous] – but I can at least acknowledge that I know what happened.”
Catch Anneke Silver’s Acknowledge at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts from 2 March – 8 April.