Gordon Syron

You have considered how it might have been as a European arriving in Australia in 1787. Now consider how the Australian Aboriginal people might have felt as they watched the First Fleet approach their land.

Aboriginal artist Gordon Syron uses his art to tell the Aboriginal people’s historic stories and to give an Aboriginal person’s perspective of historic events.

Ship in Port Jackson, with red-coated men rowing towards shore where silhouettes of Aboriginal people look on

Invasion 1 – An Aboriginal perspective, Gordon Syron, 1999 (view larger).

Look at Syron’s painting Invasion 1 – An Aboriginal perspective and listen to the artist’s statement about the work.

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Artist’s statement

I want to show the negative feelings of the Aboriginal people. The truth is, the way it was, the white master race came and took our land and did not even have the courtesy to ask us or buy it. They said we weren’t even human beings and they claimed our land as ‘terra nullius’. British law is alright for the British but Aboriginal law, customs, language, dance, Mimi spirits have been around a lot longer than British law.

View the video showing close ups of Syron’s painting. Discuss:

  • details of what is happening in the painting

  • the mood evoked by the predominance of blue

  • the contrast of the red uniforms against the blue

  • the significance of the red flag on the boat in the centre of the painting

  • the feelings evoked by the watery reflections and the shadows

  • the title of the work

  • whose view of the event might be presented here.