A Roland for an Oliver
The Fluttering Airs
The Old Lie
Inscribed stone discs
Photos courtesy of the artist
Ian Marr, artist and letter-cutter
Ian spent his childhood at ‘Mount Murchison’ station outside Wilcannia and still works there and at his small farm in southern New South Wales, combining farm work and work in ink, watercolour, oils and stone inscription. He studied Australian local history at the University of Sydney, and undertook master classes in drawing and letter-cutting in Australia and the UK. His reading in history and literature has fed and inspired much of his inscriptional work, including three recent public works, the Dhurga Rock, an acknowledgement of Indigenous dispossession, in Ryrie Park, Braidwood; commemorative marker for the lost cemetery at the site of the Sydney Town Hall, and the Woden Floods Memorial. He is represented in public collections in eastern Australia and in Ireland, and has exhibited in over eighty solo and group exhibitions over the last forty years.
These medallions are a distilled, lapidary representation of three historical moments, comprising, like the comic books of childhood, words and image.
A Roland for an Oliver (two knights who fought for Charlemagne) means an exchange, especially in battle. This work is about the gift of the Duntroon lands, the heart of modern Canberra, in exchange for the ship ‘Sydney’, which was requisitioned by the colonial authorities from Robert Campbell to supply Moreton Bay and lost off the coast of India.
The Fluttering Airs concerns the mysterious Alexander Harris, whose book The Emigrant Family is set around Queanbeyan (‘Ghiagong’) and Gudgenby (‘Rocky Springs Station’), Naas and Tharwa (‘Dullendiah Mountain’).
The Old Lie uses two phrases from Horace to look at the practice trenches created in 1916 in the Jerrabomberra Wetlands as a training ground for soldiers preparing for the Western Front in France and Belgium.
All three works are intertwined with the idea and memory of long sea voyages, which were once part of the consciousness of most settler Australians, and often led to poetic and associative comparisons between the interior landscape of Australia and the vast rolling ocean.