Artist Geoff Parr’s Place II brings together multiple perspectives on the Tasmanian landscape, people history and politics. The artwork reflects historical events and concerns that have shaped the island’s identity and place within the national psyche. In the 1970s, Parr was a member of the Lake Pedder Action Committee, the United Tasmania Group, and the Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation. In 1983 – the year this artwork was created – he was one of those arrested and charged while protesting against the Lower Gordon Scheme.
Place II refers to Tasmania as a place founded on conflicts between Aboriginal and European cultures (Governor Arthur’s ‘Proclamation Boards’ and the events surrounding ‘the Conciliation’), on environmental issues (‘No Dams’), as well as particular myths such as the search for the thylacine. The location of the suited ‘everyman’ figure (the artist himself) in different contexts also ironically refers to processes of displacement, both individual and cultural, in a place marked by conflict.
The inclusion of texts – such as Governor Arthur’s ‘Proclamation Board’ (a), the German ‘Documenta’ catalogue or the ‘No Dams’ sign – presents the landscape not as a value-free ‘natural’ reality, but as a socially and politically inscribed arena. This work also reflects Parr’s abiding interest in the shifting perspectives on our history, as demonstrated by his reconstruction of Benjamin Duterrau’s 1840 painting, The Conciliation.
A long-time resident of Tasmania, Parr was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for services to the visual arts and education in 2008. He is Professor Emeritus of Art and an Honorary Research Associate at the Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania.