Bea Maddock, Tromemanner - forgive us our trespass I-IV, 1988-89
Tromemanner – forgive us our trespass I–IV explores an Indigenous connection to the land, evoking the current of time and the erasure of the human subject. The panoramic landscape is based on the Saltpan Plains in northern Tasmania, near Maddock’s studio. The word ‘Tromemanner’ translates as ‘my own country’ in the language of the Oyster Bay clan in Tasmania, and the words of the script are also Tasmanian Aboriginal words. Because much Aboriginal culture was traditionally passed down through the spoken, rather than the written, word, the presence of the words across the landscape acts as a kind of memorial. By becoming script, the words are no longer ‘alive’, but ‘dead’, and can speak only of loss. This is emphasised by the 48 wrapped burial emblems, which are divided into compartments and archived beneath the painting, and by the landscape which exists as a bare outline. (The number 48 represents the approximate number of Tasmanian sub-tribal groups).
The soft, melted wax and pigment surface of the painting is scratched with lines, which resembles rain, or the cuts made on the bodies of the deceased by the bereaved in some Aboriginal mourning rituals. The painting speaks of the dispossession experienced by Aboriginal peoples, while simultaneously conveying the deep spiritual attachment to the land, embodied through spoken rituals, that has been disrupted by the ‘trespasses’ of colonisation.