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Something Missing – The final iteration of the Crowther Reinterpreted Project Questioning Tasmania’s absent history through art

something missing – the final iteration of the crowther reinterpreted project questioning tasmania’s absent history through art
The Crowther Reinterpreted Project is a series of four art installations, commissioned by the City of Hobart to tell the layered story of the William Crowther statue in Hobart’s Franklin Square. The most recent interpretation by writer, photographer and emerging filmmaker, palawa woman, Jillian Mundy, is set to launch on November 18 and is the fourth and final in a series of installations aimed to acknowledge, question and provoke discussion about the story of Crowther and his treatment of the body of Aboriginal leader William Lanne, after his death in 1869. Later known as King Billy, Lanne’s family were thought to be the last Aboriginal family still living traditionally on the mainland of Tasmania. They were removed and sent to Wybalenna in 1842. In 1847, along with the other survivors, Lanne was sent to putalina (Oyster Cove) and then to the Orphan School in Hobart from 1847–1851.
The new work entitled Something Missing, 2021 involves the installation of a viewing enclosure near the statue where a film comprising a series of vox pops and interviews with people who use the area, can be viewed. This work connects with one of the core aims of the Crowther Reinterpreted Project, by offering an opportunity for discussion and reflection.

Mundy spent considerable time in the park during the third iteration of the project by Julie Gough, Breathing Space, 2021, where the artist covered the bronze figure of Crowther with a timber crate, stained black. She turned up at random times and spoke with around 100 people for the film.
“Immortalising individuals who have done terrible things is not good practice by most people’s standards in 2021,” says Mundy. “Many colonial statues are offensive, some more than others. This is the case of the statue of Crowther in Franklin Square – a statue on a massive pedestal – yet details of his gory deeds are missing, just like much of lutruwita’s (Tasmania’s) history. Do people that go into that park know who he is? Do they care? Would they even notice if he was missing? Do they want the statue gone? Are they ashamed of missing history?”

“Something Missing, 2021 explores answers to these questions from people who use this public space, the work will continue (or perhaps hasten), the conversation about what we do with these chunks of metal. For decades Tasmanian Aboriginal people have expressed the insult and hurt the presence of this statue causes, and called for its removal. Maybe the powers that be are ready to listen to the people of nipaluna (Hobart).”

The Crowther Reinterpreted Project, commissioned by the City of Hobart, reflects a global statue revolution and conversation about the bronze and marble men of history, raising big questions about the nature of truth. The project encourages thoughtful discussion about this complex part of Australia’s shared history, along with the future of the statue. Crowther’s statue valorizes the problematic historical figure and fails to tell much of his story. The project, part of the City of Hobart’s Aboriginal Commitment and Action Plan, is a commitment to visibility and truth telling across the city. In this way, City of Hobart hopes to take the lead nationally in this Australian dialogue. 

Something Missing, 2021 by Jillian Mundy
Media call: Wednesday 17 November at 10:45am
Official launch: Thursday 18 November at 11.30am
Jillian Mundy is available for interviews on request. Images will be available upon installation and can be located here.

The Crowther Reinterpreted Project
Franklin Square, Hobart