Erub has a bituman road now

Clinton Nain2004

National Gallery of Victoria

National Gallery of Victoria

This work relates to Nain's mother's country of Erub (Darnley Island) in the Torres Strait. The artist painted this diptych after attending his mother’s funeral, when he became concerned about a road that was being built through his family's village. The left hand panel presents a bird's eye view of Cemetery Road (as it is known) on Erub along which Nain’s mother was carried for the last time. While it is in planar perspective, the viewer's eye is captured by elements shown laterally, documenting areas that surround this road. The houses in the lower centre refer to the village where Nain's mother grew up. The beginning of the road in the upper left eventually leads travellers past the cemetery and to the local airport.

As one travels from the houses towards the airport, one stumbles upon what appears as a garden of hibiscus flowers, where Nain's mother's ashes are strewn. Heading in the other direction, as the viewer travels along the road, past the houses and into the right hand panel, the planar perspective shifts and the viewer is found in front of an Erub palm tree, from the leaves of which the figure of his mother cascades and disappears into the water.

Text by Judith Ryan © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

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  • Title: Erub has a bituman road now
  • Creator: Clinton Nain
  • Date Created: 2004
  • Location Created: Melbourne, Australia
  • Physical Dimensions: w2440 x h1522 cm (Overall (diptych))
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased with funds from the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2005 © Courtesy of the artist and Sherman Galleries, Sydney, =A9 National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: synthetic polymer paint, bitumen, enamel paint on canvas
  • Place Part Of: Australia