Scar Tree – Red River Gum

Helen Tiernan

Scar Tree – Red River Gum by Helen Tiernan


Helen Tiernan
Scar Tree – Red River Gum
encaustic on pine
45 x 30 cm

signed lower right: HST
copyright the artist

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Storied Country, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 22 October - 19 November 2022

Further Information

Tiernan’s mixed cultural heritage informs her artwork where she keenly acknowledges her multiple ancestries including Aboriginal, Irish and British. She simultaneously references Aboriginal culture, contact history and colonial histories. The surfaces of her paintings are embossed or sometimes scarred using the chevron patterns of ceremonial skin and carved shield designs. Iconographical visual references reflect these cross-cultural sources and to these she also presents a creative layering of issues of critical contemporary relevance related to environmental degradation and climate change.

In many works, Tiernan makes comment on the use of inland waterways and sea by Indigenous Australians in colonial times. She reflects on their navigational and settlement histories, presenting a strong and dignified people that found a place for themselves in the new reality of European occupation. Focusing on Indigenous survival on the waterways of Eastern Australia, against the adverse circumstances they encountered, their cultural practices, including the use of canoes, fish traps and dams and the concept of farming without fences, remained largely intact.

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