Stock Works 20

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52 AM 13989/17
Greg Matthews They Came...and They Stayed 2017
Acrylic on canvas
760 x 510mm

Tasmania was visited by mariners well before the British arrived; these visitors came on an opportunistic basis, with the sole intention of exploiting the riches that the Tasmanian coastal area had to offer. The mariners traded with the different tribal groups, and in many instances traded/stole aboriginal women as they were valued by the mariners for their hunting skills and for companionship, this often led to liaisons with aboriginal women, and many of the current Tasmanian Aboriginals are direct descendants from these liaisons. The British, when they arrived on the on the Australian mainland set about creating permanent settlements, eventually shifting their focus to Tasmania. A rapid expansion of the Tasmanian British population put pressure on the land and the aboriginals who occupied it, fences were built, wildlife hunted, then with good intentions they set about converting my people to their British Christian values. All this, along with the introduction of exotic diseases by both the British and the Mariners had a detrimental effect on the local Aboriginal population. With little or no immunity may people died in large numbers, our culture and beliefs, and our languages, all of which spanned thousands of years; were all but destroyed in the process.

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