Lin ONUS: artist

On Display

About the work

While Melbourne artist Lin Onus is known primarily for his paintings, equally fundamental are his three-dimensional works. Onus developed an incisive eye for the issues and arguments relating to Aboriginal Land Rights, using the landscapes of both Victoria and Arnhemland as paradigms for diplacement and the emotional dislocation experienced by Aboriginal people.

The inspiration for Maralinga grew directly out of his exposure to the central Australian landscape and visual experiences gained during his frequent road trips between Melbourne and Arnhemland. As the Australian desert site for atomic bomb tests conducted by England in the early 1950s, Maralinga has become and enduring symbol for both the desecration and the pollution of the landscape. It is also a potent commentary on the compulsory displacement of its Aboriginal landholders from their traditional land. In the realistic treatment of the mother and child sheltering each other from the bomb's lethal wind blast, the composition carries an additional message as a potent evocation of the human desolation caused by all wars and instruments of war. The perspex mushroom cloud and radioactivity symbols act as a pointer to the specific events at Maralinga.

Lin Onus has been awarded an Order of Australia for his services to the arts as painter, sculptor and promoter of Aboriginal artists and their works.
Artist/Maker and role
Lin ONUS: artist
fibreglass, synthetic polymer paint, acrylic and paper stickers
(a) 163.0 x 56.0 x 62.0cm (figure)
(b) 125.0 x 119.0 x 45.0cm (cloud)
Display location
Credit line
Purchased 1990
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the sculptures in our collection.