01 - 23 September 2018
John Edwards has been fascinated for many years by the intriguing stories that surround Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward), AKA the "gentleman bushranger", and his partner, Mary Ann Bugg, a Worimi woman, with an Indigenous mother and convict father.
An Australian mythology was born during the 1860´s alongside what has been referred to as a "bushranging epidemic" in which rural farmers and others, chose to support local bushranging, in defiance of the recently-established state-run police authority.
In what was initially a romantic "Robin Hood style" game of pinch from the rich, give to the poor, the bushranger´s name quickly grew both in heroics and mythology. The increasing audacity of bushranging was much inline with the increasing fatalities to all sides.
My current body of work, Captain Thunderbolt and the travails of Australian bushrangers, evolved from looking at Sidney Nolan´s ‘Kelly’ paintings with their brilliant colour and modernist depiction of home-made armour hammered out of ploughs. Kelly´s masked dressing has something of the spirit and grit of an Australian ethos of ‘making do’.
Narratives surrounding convict and bushranger images are integral to our Australian psyche with figures such as Ned Kelly, Captain Thunderbolt and Jack Doolan thriving in the imagination. Bush ballads are penned and images painted about such figures famed for stealing, philandering, ‘mateyness’ and murder. Despite such waywardness, they attract enormous sympathy and public intrigue, in part because of skill and stealth in evading the law. Less is known about their feisty, gun-toting partners. Such a woman was the Indigenous Mary-Ann Bugg, also known as ‘Black Mary’. She was Thunderbolt´s, ‘the gentleman bushranger’ second wife and the only female bushranger.
John Edwards has recently been named as a finalist in the Grace Cossington Smith Art Award, semi-finalist in the 2018 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, and is a regular finalist in the AGNSW Archibald and Sulman Prizes, the S.H. Ervin Galleries, Salon de refusés, the Kilgour Art prize, the Blake Prize, and the NSW Parliament Plein Air Art Prize, to name a few of his extended achievements.
Public Collections include: Artbank; Australian Embassy in China; University Of Wollongong; Sydney West International College; The Childrens Hospital Collection, Westmead; University Of Technology; Symnans Saker Elliot and Hickman Collection New Zealand; University Of Sydney.