Danie Mellor is a finalist in the 2023 Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW with his work Shadow land (water talking story place).
Depicted here is Wiinggina/Lake Eacham, a volcanic crater lake and a site of Yamani, the rainbow serpent, found in the Atherton Tablelands. This is Ngadjon-jii, Danie Mellor’s Country, and was created following fieldtrips and visits to the Tablelands, made over several years. It is a place which is ‘profoundly beautiful’, says Mellor. ‘The gentle, mineral- coloured azure waters contrast with verdant greens and rich, primordial forms and vegetation of towering fig trees and lush rainforest.’
Such a landscape is evident in Shadow land (water talking story place); however Mellor’s purposeful sepia toning of the work has been used to locate this scene in a period of history documented by early photographic techniques. Mellor’s inclusion of bama (people), who return our gaze while drifting in a canoe near the lake’s shoreline, reflects on the complex histories of colonised landscapes from Mellor’s Country, and the ethnographic ‘othering’ of Indigenous peoples.
This is the second year in a row that Mellor has been selected as a Wynne finalist. He is also a finalist in this year’s Archibald, with a portrait of Gene Sherman AM.