- Museum number
Painting on bark showing two anthropomorphic figures in white pigment.The figure on the left appears to be female with breasts depicted; the right hand figure is male showing male genitalia. Both figures have tongues sticking out.
- Production date
- 19thC (likely before 1849)
Length: 93.50 centimetres
Width: 31 centimetres
- Curator's comments
As outlined by Simpson (2021:244-245), when Tilston died at Port Essington in 1849, he left his collection in his will to Haslar Hospital Museum. Weighing 'a ton', the collection was taken from Port Essington to Sydney in HMS Meander; it stayed in the commissariat stores for almost a year until it was arranged by another naval surgeon WHB Jones for it to be sent to Haslar, where it arrived in 1851.
For a discussion of this and other early paintings on bark from this region see Paul S C Tacon and Susan M Davies 'Transitional traditions: "Port Essington" bark-paintings and the European discovery of Aboriginal aesthetics'. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2004 (2):72-86.
Luke Taylor (email 24/10/2014) notes that paired male/female figures can relate to Kunabibi and Wubar stories; see also 'love magic' paintings collected by R. & C. Berndt 'Sexual Behaviour in Western Arnhem Land', 1951.
For a detailed analysis of bark painting from this region, see L. Taylor, 'Seeing the Inside. Bark Painting in Western Arnhem Land.' Oxford. 1996.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 23 Apr-2 Aug, London, BM, G35, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation
2015-2016 27 Nov-28 Mar, Canberra, National Museum of Australia, Encounters
- Acquisition notes
- Acquisition details not recorded. Handwritten tied-on label: 'M.704 from the Haslar Museum' 'N/N 2' added in pencil. Most of the material in the British Museum from Haslar Hospital Museum was acquired in 1855, though there is also some in the Christy four figure numbers.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number