Am I alone in thinking there’s something a bit off about the National Gallery of Australia’s happy snaps design approach to branding? Is this how we are to EXPERIENCE THE BIG PICTURE? What’s On, you may well ask.
Here’s four variations on the way the NGA has represented itself through the imagery of burial poles, that is, via the reproduction of details of The Aboriginal Memorial.
Both in its old and new (begravelled) guise, the Aboriginal Memorial is now made to stand for the Gallery as a whole.
Is this another subtle form of desanctification? It’s not until you get to the second last page of this Canberra Times promotional insert that you are reminded why this is The Aboriginal Memorial. When you read the opening words of Djon Mundine’s essay (reprinted from the NGA’s ‘treasures of the collection’ book): “Since 1788 at least 300,000, perhaps a million, Aboriginal people have died at the hands of white invaders.” Now that’s the big picture… In respect of which, perhaps it’s time to suggest the NGA backs off its current branding strategy? (And remove the gravel while they’re at it?)
P.S. Lest you think I’m suffering from hyperbole, this is not the first time the invocation “lest we forget” has been used in relation to The Aboriginal Memorial. According to Susan Jenkins’ account, these words are to be found on the back cover of the explanatory brochure produced by Ramingining Arts (and sanctioned by the Gallery) when it was first installed in the NGA in September 1988.