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Visual Codes And Conventions In The Painting: George Robinson Welcomes Natives To Wybalenna

568 words - 2 pages

Visual texts can be seen to be an attempt by their creators to represent particular ideologies to their viewers. It is the viewer's attitudes and values however, that determine the contemporary meaning of the image. The painting George Robinson welcomes Natives to Wybalenna, is a Colonial document portraying the Christianizing of indigenous people on Flinders Island. Visual codes and conventions employed in the image, such as positioning and framing depict the entwined values of white, patriarchal and Christian ideologies of the 19th Century. However, change in how society identifies itself, also changes the dominant ideology in its culture. Subsequently, the historical context of Post-Colonial attitudes and values in contemporary society, evoke a contemporary meaning in Robinson's painting, one of racial and religious prejudice.

The convention of positioning is vital in constructing the Colonial ideology of Robinson?s image. It has the potential to provide the viewer with visual associations, which translate to language in the form of binary oppositions. For instance, the most central and dominant feature in the image is Robinson himself. The effect this has is a marginalization of the natives to the left of him, which is amplified further by the dominance of Colonial attire. This juxtaposed against the tribal-dress creates a sense of civilized and uncivilized, superior and inferior, between the two cultures. Positioning also makes evident the Christian values that were an integral part of Colonial ideology. George Robinson?s overall body language is reminiscent of depictions of Jesus Christ and other saints. In this context, the natives surrounding him and Christ?s followers are analogous. When the rule-of-thirds in positioning is applied, the Colonial and Christian ideologies entwine, Robinson is depicted as the ?saviour? and link between the ?civilized and...

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