dead or just sleeping? interpretation of public art in Brisbane | Nov 24, 2004
From the article in ABC News Online:
The sculpture, which is entitled Progress of civilisation in the state of Queensland has been in the triangular tympanum above the front entrance of Brisbane City Hall for more than 70 years.
In the sculpture, the state of Queensland is symbolised by a robed woman sending forth her explorers and settlers to tame the land.
On the far left are two Aboriginal people.
The first is depicted in a submissive pose with his spear pointing down to the ground while the second is lying under a shield and appears to be dead.
Some local historians say the second figure is not dead but just sleeping.
However, the official program from City Hall's opening in 1930 said: "On the left hand side of the tympanum, the native life is represented dying out before the approach of white man."
Brisbane Council of Elders' Herb Bligh says it is time his organisation confronted City Hall about the sculpture.
"It brings back that memory of the old days when the white people could do what they liked with you... I don't think it should be there," he said.
A growing number of Aboriginal elders agree something should be done.