Brook Andrew / Wiradjuri people / Australia b.1970 / The Island V 2008 / Mixed media on Belgian linen ed.1/3 / Purchased 2009 with funds from the Bequest of Grace Davies and Nell Davies through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Brook Andrew

Brook Andrew
The Island V 2008

Not Currently on Display

Brook Andrew often reproduces historical imagery on a large scale, re-investigating the ways in which Indigenous Australian people have been represented in history.

The Island V 2008 questions notions of Australia as a savage and romantic land by examining an image from Prussian zoologist and naturalist Wilhelm Blandowski’s Australien in 142 Photographischen Abbildungen (1862).

The incorporation of blood-red pigment heightens this notion, signifying lust, romance, anger, aggression and danger over a silver foil. In the background, an anonymous Aboriginal man stands with his club raised overhead.

Brook Andrew is a leading Australian artist. He challenges cultural and historical perceptions, using installation, text and image, to comment on local and global issues regarding representation, the media, consumerism and history.

Of particular interest is the representation of Australian Indigenous people throughout history, and Andrew often re-contextualises and reproduces historical imagery on a large scale in his work.

Apart from drawing inspiration from institutional and found archive collections, Andrew travels internationally to work with communities and museum collections to create new works about historical object display and perception.

Discussion Questions

1. Why is the man in far corner of the painting holding a club?

2. Discuss historical interpretations of Australia as an exotic place and of Aboriginal identity as the ‘dangerous other’. How are these interpretations addressed by the artist?


1. The artist has used colour and silver foil to create drama and attract our attention. Create a dramatic scene of your own, carefully choosing materials to draw others’ attention to what is happening.

2. Find a historical source that reflects the notion of Australia as a savage and romantic place — this could be a piece of writing, photograph or painting. Incorporate this source to create an artwork that contrasts with today’s portrayal of Australia in the media.