Guiding the Sheep


In the National Gallery of Victoria

students study Tom Robert’s Shearing the Rams (1890),

noting the impressionistic pastoral scene:

sheared wool amongst splintered timber;

an angel faced boy floating above the floor;

and a puff of smoke from the foreman’s pipe

as he watches them.“The English painter

drew the boy from a girl,” the guide reveals.

“Wool was Australia’s greatest export at the time.

The station’s still in Brocklesby.”


Asked about Dianne Jones’s Noongar work

Shearing the Rams (2001), “It’s

postmodern,” he replies. No

further details. No mention of the absence

of Aboriginals in Robert’s postcard scene.    I turn,

recall their central presence in Jones's photo media

family portrait, remember wearing a blue singlet

in the air-conditioned Perth Gallery, facing myself

across the museum space, knowing that I am he:

that the man in the image is me.

poet's biography ->