Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers
About the book
In the Flinders Ranges, a Kuyani man presents a cake of ochre to a European doctor, in earnest proof that the threatened ochre mine is ‘as important as the bible is to Christians’. As netted bags are exchanged for cloth south of Port Darwin, a surveyor’s linguistic hobby draws him close to Djerimanga people, near enough to become the unwitting candidate for a blood debt.
Ochre and Rust takes nine Aboriginal and colonial artefacts from their museum shelves, and positions them at the centre of these gripping, poignant tales set in the heart of Australia's frontier zone.
About the author
Philip Jones is a curator and historian, based at the South Australian Museum.
He has published widely on the history of anthropology and collecting, and on the ethnography and history of the Aboriginal people of the eastern Lake Eyre region. He has also made detailed surveys of European collections of Aboriginal material, and has curated several exhibitions which have travelled to Europe, North America and Asia, including Australia: The Land, The People (2005–2006) and Boomerang (1996–2002) and the accompanying book Boomerang: Behind an Australian Icon.
The author sets himself the difficult task of extrapolating the implications of cultural contact between European and Aboriginal people through the examination of objects, most now in Australian museums. These disparate objects include a cake of red ochre, Aboriginal shields and Daisy Bates’ travelling suit.
The book is written with elegance, simplicity and outstanding clarity. The insights drawn are through a true historian’s eye and the work illuminates larger debates about encounters between the first Australians and the European settlers.