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Conrad Martens and the Bush of South-East Queensland

  • Rod Fensham

Extract

The work of colonial artists has provided precious insights into the nature of the Australian landscape as it was at the time immediately following white settlement. The works of Glover, Lewin and von Guérard, for example, have been employed by historical geographers and have fuelled some fascinating debates about the nature of the landscape as it was under Aboriginal management. Of course, the work of some of these artists forms more faithful historical documentation than that of others. The stylised works of J.S. Lycett, the emancipated convict turned painter, are almost certainly unreliable as accurate landscape documentation, as his criminal conviction for forgery may suggest (Plate 1). It is likely that Lycett never visited some of the locations he painted and much of his work was probably commissioned as immigration propaganda, intended to placate the fears of the Britons equivocating about a move to the awesome and intimidating southern land.

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Notes

1 See Fensham, R.J., ‘The pre-European vegetation of the Midlands, Tasmania: floristic and historical analysis of vegetation patterns’, Journal of Biogeography 16 (1989): 2945; Benson, D. Howell, J., Taken for Granted: The Bushland of Sydney and Its Suburbs (Sydney: Kangaroo Press, 1990).

2 Benson, J.S. Redpath, P.A., ‘The nature of pre-European native vegetation in south-eastern Australia: a critique of Ryan, D.G., Ryan, J.R., and Starr, B. J. (1995) The Australian Landscape — Observations of Explorers and Early Settlers’, Cunninghamia 5 (1997): 285328.

3 Martens, Conrad, Brisbane in 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Plate 2; Conrad Martens, North and South Brisbane from the South Brisbane Rocks, 1851, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Steele, Figure 7; Conrad Martens, Part of Brisbane with Kangaroo Point, Queensland 1853, National Library of Australia, Canberra in Steele, Plate 3.

4 Martens, Conrad, Brisbane, 1855, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane: reproduction at http://www.visualarts.qld.gov.au/martens.

5 Martens, Conrad, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Plate 4; Martens, Conrad, Kangaroo Point, Nov 1851, 1851, John Oxley Library, Brisbane, in Steele, Figure 15.

6 Martens, Conrad, View of Brisbane (in 1851), 1862, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Steele, Figure 10; Conrad Martens, North and South Brisbane from the South Brisbane Rocks, 1851, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Steele, Figure 7; Conrad Martens, North and South Brisbane, Moreton Bay, New South Wales, c.1852, National Library of Australia, Canberra, in Steele, Figure 9.

7 Martens, Conrad, Terrawambella on Nichol's run, New England, March 19th 1852, 1852, Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 110; Steele, J.G., personal communication with the author, 11 Aug. 2001.

8 Martens, Conrad, Scrub in Cunningham's Gap, Dec. 12th 1851, 1851, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 38; Conrad Martens, Scrub in Cunningham's Gap, 1851, National Library of Australia, Canberra, reproduced at http://nla.gov.au/nla.pican2390628-v; Conrad Martens, Cunningham's Gap, 1874, private collection, in Steele, Figure 39; Conrad Martens, Forest, Cunningham's Gap, 1856, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Julie Ewington, Conrad Martens and the Darling Downs (Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery, 1998).

9 Martens, Conrad, View from Drayton Range, 1853, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Plate 7.

10 Martens, Conrad, House and Garden, Goomburra, c.1853, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, reproduced at http://www.visualarts.qld.gov.au/martens.

11 Martens, Conrad, Mount Mitchell from Gladfield, 1858, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney; Martens, Conrad, Killarney, Canning Downs, March 13th 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 105; Conrad Martens, Killarney, Canning Downs, 1854, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane in Ewington; Conrad Martens, Heifer Station. Canning Downs, 1852, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Ewington; Conrad Martens, Cattle Plain, Goomburra, 1858, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney; Conrad Martens, Goomburra crossing place, 1853, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

12 Martens, Conrad, The Mirage on the Great Condamine Plain, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 89.

13 Martens, Conrad, Crossing Place, Canning Downs, 1854, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Ewington; Conrad Martens, Crossing Place, Condamine, Canning Downs, March 12th 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 101; Conrad Martens, Warwick from the Right Bank of the “Condamine'’, March 12th 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 102.

14 Fensham, R.J. Fairfax, R.J., ‘The use of the land survey record to reconstruct pre-European vegetation patterns in the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia’, Journal of Biogeography 24 (1997): 827836.

15 French, M., ed., Travellers in a Landscape: VisitorsImpressions of the Darling Downs 1827–1954 (Toowoomba: USQ Press, 1994); Gott, B., ‘Murnong-Microseris scapigera: a study of a staple food of Victorian Aborigines’, Australian Aboriginal Studies 2 (1983): 2–18.

16 Martens, Conrad, Near Pilton, Xanthorea or Grass trees, Dec. 24th 1851, 1851, Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 48.

17 Martens, Conrad, Bottle Tree, Rosalie Plains — Ramsey Esq., Feb. 16th 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 81; Conrad Martens, Bottle Tree, 1851, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Steele, Figure 37.

18 Martens, Conrad, The Bunya Pine, Cooyar, Feb. 13th 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 80.

19 Martens, Conrad, Franklyn Vale from the Range, c.1853, private collection; Martens, Conrad, Franklyn Vale, c.1854, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, reproduced at http://www.visualarts.qld.gov.au/martens; Conrad Martens, Franklin Vale, Jan. 20th 1852, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 69; Conrad Martens, (Franklyn Vale), 1861, private collection, in Steele, Plate 10; Conrad Martens, (View of Glen, Franklin Vale), 1853, private collection, reproduced at http://www.visualarts.qld.gov.au/martens; Conrad Martens, Franklin Vale, Jan. 22, 1852, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 70.

20 Martens, Conrad, Coochin Run, 1854, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Ewington; Martens, Conrad, Coochin Coochin, 1875, Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney; Conrad Martens, Coochin, 1851, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, in Ewington; Conrad Martens, “Mooni'’, Coochin, Dec. 5th 1851, 1851, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 32.

21 Martens, Conrad, Black's Camp at Gladfield, Dec. 29th 1851, 1851, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, in Steele, Figure 54.

22 Beth Gott has misinterpreted this as a South Australian specimen. The collector is C.J. Gwyther and the Queensland Herbarium has 70 of his specimens from south-east Queensland. The ‘Gladfield’ location of this specimen is certainly the Darling Downs, Queensland. As noted by Gott, F.M. Bailey (Director, Queensland Herbarium) has made a note on the specimen: ‘In the early days of S. Australia the colonists used to eat the fleshy roots of this plant — following the practice of the natives by whom it was largely used for food. I was fond of it as a boy its flavour was somewhat like a sweet nut.’

23 Gott, B., ‘Murnong-Microseris scapigera: a study of a staple food of Victorian Aborigines’, Australian Aboriginal Studies 2 (1983): 218.

Conrad Martens and the Bush of South-East Queensland

  • Rod Fensham

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