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Title: Review of 'Restless Spirits: The Life and Times of a Wandering Artist' By Cassi Plate. Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2005 (337 pages, ISBN 0330421646)
Contributor(s): Ryan, John C  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2012
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: I first became interested in the work of the German-born sailor and artist Adolph Plate (1874-1914) when researching the depiction of Western Australia's plant life in early twentieth-century poetry, visual art and historical documents. My attention turned towards one image in particular: Plate's 'Untitled [WA Bush Scene with Ringbarked Gum]', a watercolour painted in 1912 when the enterprising artist and his family took up a parcel of land east of Geraldton to cultivate wheat. 'Untitled' was created soon before Plate and his young family left Perth for Sydney where he would die abruptly, at age 40, from throat cancer. What is it about this image of a Wheatbelt gum that draws me in? I think it's the story of the tree's circumferential gash-a graphic testimony to the landclearing practices of settlers (here exemplified by ring-barking) during a time of rapid environmental change in the Wheatbelt. In this region, more than ninety percent of the pre-settlement eucalypt woodlands have been eradicated, a transformation in part fuelled by the misplaced pastoral dreams of Europeanborn settlers like Adolph Plate. But the appeal of the image also reflects the complex story of Plate himself and the many societies-as well as cultural and environmental values-he navigated during his brief, intense life.
Publication Type: Review
Source of Publication: Landscapes, 5(1), p. 122-124
Publisher: International Centre for Landscape and Language
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1448-0778
Field of Research (FOR): 200502 Australian Literature (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature)
HERDC Category Description: D3 Review of Single Work
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Appears in Collections:Review
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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