Blog posts

Scent of a Falling Dark closes

Its been an amazing  couple of weeks down at the Moores Building while the exhibition has been on. There’s been a lot of interest in the work, in the themes it represents, and a lot of wonderful conversations with people who have viewed it: conversations about thylacines (some with direct connections to the last thylacines in captivity) with others who swear they have seen it; and with many, many people about extinctions. Thanks to all who came, to all who wrote in my visitor’s book, and especially to those young artists who drew pictures in that same book for me as a memory of their visit. It is with a definite touch of sadness that I have taken my thylacines down and packed up the exhibition. Until next time…

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Thylacines, museums and the colonial past

A recent essay by Penny Edmonds and Hannah Stark in The Conversation (6 April 2018) about the thylacine specimens in the Natural History Museum of London brings the loss of this amazing animal into sharp focus.

I was struck to learn that at the Dark Mofo Festival in Tasmania last year, a huge effigy of the thylacine was ritually burnt at Macquarie Point in something called ‘the Purging’.

To find out more, read their excellent article:

https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-on-the-trail-of-the-london-thylacines-91473

 

Benjamin the Last

Many of the photographic images of thylacines  you can find in the public domain are of the last remaining thylacine to die in captivity. She died on 7 September 1936. The heartbreaking story of how she died from exposure, locked out of her pen at night, is recounted in Robert Paddle’s (2000) extraordinarily detailed book, ‘The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine’, which is a must read for anyone interested in how the thylacine became extinct in living memory. The last thylacine is often referred to as Benjamin, which mistakenly gives the impression that the last thylacine was male. In fact, Paddle shows, the information that the thylacine was called Benjamin (or ‘Benjy’) comes from an unreliable source, and it is clear from looking at the images that the last thylacine was not male.

Its not quite finished, but I have titled one of my paintings for my upcoming exhibition at the Moore’s building (opening 27th April) ‘Benjamin the Last’. Even though Paddle’s account makes it clear that this was not the last thylacine’s name, the name ‘Benjamin’ has entered into the public domain as surely as have the photographs of her.

Benjamin the last
Katie Glaskin / Benjamin the Last /Acrylic and gesso on canvas /112cm x 76.5cm/ Based on David Fleay’s 1933 photograph of ‘Benjamin’, the last thylacine in captivity, at the Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart