With an approach that is both scholarly and irreverent, Dr. Traudi Allen explores the way art history has sometimes unwittingly supported the establishment of Australian myths and stereotypes as well as how it has challenged them. She shows how this art may be expressed as a homesickness for the land of origin or as a sickness at home, when as an asylum seeker one suffers incarceration or as a permanent resident one is a proxy torturer.
In a country that boasts its egalitarianism, how did Kelly contribute to art history and how did art respond to Steve Irwin? Through studies of work ranging from the performance art of Mike Parr to the painting of Howard Arkley, Vivienne Binns and Sidney Nolan, to television ads, Australian film and cartoons by Leunig and Nicholson she details the transformation of the Australian nationalist myth. Drawing on history, current political debates and the broad visual culture, the book articulates how artists from both the high and popular arts have considered standard national mythologies and stereotypes such as the genuine outback adventurer, the happy-go-lucky Aussie and the ardent nationalist.
Comments on the book: ‘Traudi Allen’s detailed and meticulously researched book: ‘Homesickness: Nationalism in Australian Visual Culture’ investigates how what we see tells us who we are, and who we are informs what we see. This book, with its astonishing catalogue of remarkable artists and images, helps us to understand both the blessings, the dangers and the mysteries of national identity.’ Joanna Murray-Smith – Playwright and novelist October 2008.
‘Traudi Allen sets herself an interesting task, exploring the relationship between visual culture and national myths since 1940. Her broad conclusions are persuasive; her analysis of the art itself demonstrates a deep and wide-ranging knowledge of the field. The result is stimulating, surprising, entertaining, wide-ranging, erudite, eclectic, lively and argumentative.’ – Richard White, Historian.