Tapestry panel titled 'Alone in the Bush', designed by Sydney artist and musician Reg Mombassa. It depicts the loneliness and isolation many Europeans experienced on arrival in Australia and as they attempted to make a life in the vast incongruous landscape of the Australian continent. It is the third panel of ten in the Federation Tapestry Suite woven by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop (known as the Australian Tapestry Workshop since 2010), to mark the Centenary of Federation in 2001.

The artist took his inspiration from an early 19th century Staffordshire plate brought to Hobart by an early settler. As his central motif, he chose a lonely prophetic figure, a shepherd in the wilderness, seated in front of a contemporary suburban bungalow and reading the Bible to an audience of birds and animals. The shepherd newcomer, his collie dog and a sheep are juxtaposed against other animals, including a kangaroo now under the control of the British crown. These represent the native fauna which was soon displaced by the immigrants from Europe. The artist believes that 'It has taken time, cultural conditioning, air conditioning and insecticides to help us appreciate and love the Australian landscape as we now do'.

As they wove the decorative pattern around the 'plate', the weavers wanted to capture the subtle tonal graduations of the artist's rendering and to retain the rich glowing quality of the foliage. Silver thread was added to highlight certain areas in the border and the title of the tapestry panel.

Physical Description

Tapestry woven in the shape of a china plate. It is circular in shape with a wavy, purple floral border. In the centre is an image of a bearded man dressed in a grey suit and red cape, seated on a tree stump. He is holding an open book. In front of him is a kangaroo wearing a crown. A collie dog is seated beside him, and there are two birds, a koala, and a sheep. In the background is a red-roofed hut and some trees. The name of the artist is woven above, and title of the panel below the image.

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