On Display: GOMA, Gallery 3.5
Trunk Shield II (Middle Nellie Kelly shield) 2001 is made from reclaimed metal sourced from the bottom of a travelling trunk. This style of trunk was used in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to carry possessions when travelling, but only by those who could afford them.
Here, Danie Mellor uses the travelling trunk as a metaphor for the displacement from her land of his great-grandmother, Nellie Kelly (nee Brackenridge), who was a member of the Mamu/Ngadjonji people. For Mellor, the deterioration of the shield’s metal surface references the erosion of traditional Indigenous culture over time as a result of the intervention of Christian missionaries.
The surface of the shield is decorated with contour land maps to resemble the totem-like designs of wooden shields and body painting from north Queensland, while the shape resembles the curve of the figtree buttress roots from which traditional shields were cut.
Danie Mellor was born in Mackay, Queensland, and is a descendant of the Mamu/Ngadjonji people of north Queensland. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Theories of Art Practice/Theoretical Enquiry at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Mellor’s art centres on the rainforest region around Cairns, a region that holds spiritual and cultural importance for the artist and his family.