In the previous ‘Cultural Insight’, we looked at a famous painting by the early Australian painter Tom Robert (9 March 1856 – 14 September 1931). In contrast to Russel Drysdale (who came much later [See Cultural Insight 17]), Roberts saw the outback in a much more positive way.
Frederick McCubbin was a colleague of Robert’s, and they studied art together. McCubbin also saw the bush in a more positive, but often more reflective, way. Here is his most famous painting, called ‘The Pioneer’ (1904).
There is a story here, somewhat sad, and somewhat uplifting at the same time.
Picture 1: The pioneers – a husband and wife – have arrived in a new area of bush land. Notice the expression on the wife’s face – not a happy one.
Picture 2: Now these two people have a baby, a house (shown in the background), and the husband is clearing the forest for further agricultural purposes.
Picture 3: Probably the son returns to visit the grave of (probably) his father or mother. Notice now that a small town can be seen in the distance. Time has passed; life moves on, and a country develops further. We are born, we live, and we die, eventually returning to the soil (from which we came).