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Colonial Truth

Exhibition image

Doug Heslop

Doug Heslop’s 'Colonial Truth' aims to retell aspects of the settler-colonial history of the invasive formation and expansion of the Hunter Region in NSW.

‘One man soweth, and another reapeth’ is written on my uncle Ben Singleton’s grave, his headstone paid for by the citizens of the town he founded. The bitter irony of the text is magnified by the fact his land grant, which he subdivided and sold, sits on land visibly managed by Wonnarua for millennia, and is bisected by an Aboriginal trade route that runs from Darkinjung Country in the mountain ranges of Wollombi, to Gomeroi country in the Liverpool Plains. Terra Nullius allowed the colonists to be blind to the fact the land was both owned and cared for. 

Is it possible to express my remorse at the continuing ill treatment of Aboriginal people through painting family and local colonial history in a way that convinces other colonists to care?  This series is about truth telling, it’s about coming clean about our colonial history as a small but necessary step toward reconciliation. 

This exhibition has been made in direct consultation with Wonnarua Traditional Owners, Elders and spokespeople of the Plains Clans of the Wonnarua Peoples - with financial assistance from Create NSW. 

- Doug Heslop, 2023  

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