The Australian National Identity Meme _ writing
“A national identity is an invention. There is no point asking whether one version of this essential Australia is truer than any other because they are all intellectual constructs, neat, tidy, comprehensible, and necessarily false.” 
The concept of an ‘Australian national identity’ is one that acts as a meme and has evolved through its interaction with ‘environment’, however it cannot lend itself to a accurate essential ‘national identity’. This will be explained through an investigation of the artworks Ned Kelly (1946) by Sidney Nolan and Shearing of the Rams 1890 by Tom Roberts, and will also be illuminated through an understanding of the nature of the ‘Australian national identity meme’. Richard White has described and outlined ‘types’ of national identities within the Australian context from 1688-1980, and the evolution of the meme’s visual depiction through-out the changing social, political, cultural, and environmental influences on ‘national identity’ will be demonstrated through the selected works. This essay will also highlight the exclusionary nature of a ‘national identity’, and will show that the catalyst for its evolution is its inability to embody a depiction or identity that is truer than another.
‘National identity’ is best described as a meme, as it exists in the mind and prospers by its usefulness to humans or groups.   The foundations of the ‘identity meme’ evolve through movement of time in reaction to the social, political and environmental factors, and depend on the popularity and ability to replicate its self as meme through imperfect imitation.  There is no point asking if one version of ‘the essential Australian identity’ is truer than any other, as an identity meme is time dependent and serves as a snapshot of an in-group’s accepted ‘national identity’ of that period. However, the evolving memes have delivered a framework of personal identity that encouraged a young colonial altercentrism nation to group together, and this began the evolution of a constructed identity that reacted to the changing social, political and environmental ‘landscapes’, and its ‘popularity’ ensured it’s replication. The ‘in-group’ nature of the ‘national identity meme’ is beneficial for those that identify with an ‘Australian’ nation, as it strengthens the psyche of the ‘included group’ to continue its practices as a community. The bonds of those who identify with the identity are also strengthened, which encourages the group to dominate the broader environment and rule within the belief and power structure of the identity, and this further propagates the meme and encompasses the ‘in-groups’ identity boundaries. Understanding the nature of the evolving ‘national identity meme’ allows the viewer to look back at ‘iconic’ depictions of the Australian ‘national identity’ and illuminate the evolution this meme has taken.
Largely accepted ‘Australian identities’ fail over time due to the change in social, political and environmental variables. These changes encourage the groups or individuals who existed ‘outside’ of popular identities or who became ‘out-groups’ to gravitate towards both new perspectives and depictions of identity, or towards imposed conformity. This gravitation is due to the physiological and social benefits of being a member of an ‘in-group’ and these actions re-define the image of the Australian ‘national identity meme’. This is achieved by incorporating or excluding elements of the previously held Australian identity into a newer, broadened or divergent Australian identity. This nature of ‘national identity’ develops a vague reflection of the period, in which it is analysed. Various Australian ‘national identities’ existed and were propagated until it was/is acted upon by the ‘environment’ in which it existed/s, causing the meme to either evolve or die. Any meme of ‘national identity’ from any period cannot be considered true as the exclusion of coexisting counter identities lack reflection in any analysed period. However, these identities can encompass the views and beliefs of the ‘in-group’ or authority in power, of the period in which it is analysed. The analysis of the visual depiction of a ‘national identity’ of a period can illuminate the social and political factors from which the meme evolved.
In his book Inventing Australia Images and Identity 1688-1980, White identifies 10 manifestations of ‘national identity’ through-out colonial Australia, which include: ‘Terra Australis Incognita’; ‘Hell upon earth’; a ‘workingman’s paradise’; ‘another America’; ‘the national type’; ‘bohemians and the bush’; ‘young white happy and wholesome’; ‘diggers and heroes’; ‘growing up’; and ‘everyman and his Holden’. The sheer number of identities identified by White alone highlights the way in which identity changes over a 292-year period, which does not allow the meme to hold true in its entirety. Each identity has been depicted by groups and artists in an obsessive chase of identity during the prevailing period of their works, and this obsession aligns with the understanding of ‘national identity’ provided by Daniel Druckman, as it has an ability to give groups a unification in beliefs and ideologies, which are beneficial for the survival of individuals and groups, and can be used for both positive and negative outcomes.
Ned Kelly, Sidney Nolan, 1946
Ned Kelly Series, Enamel paint on composition board,
90.8 h x 121.5 w cm
The artwork Ned Kelly (1946) by Sidney Nolan is seen to be one of Australia’s most iconic depictions of ‘national identity’ and the strongest representation of a visual depiction in the way a ‘national identity’ is constructed and evolves as a meme. Ned Kelly depicts the story of colonial Australia and is a representation of the ‘in-group Australian’ of the 1940’s. Ned Kelly is a painting of the armoured bushranger Ned Kelly riding on horseback through flat ochre country. The painting unifies, broadens, and draws from the Australian colonial history creating a new, evolved representation of the Australian ‘national identity meme’, which resonated with the pre-established authoritative Australian public. The evolution of the ‘national identity meme’ can be clearly identified in Ned Kelly through the incorporation of: an evolution of landscape painting, which has been the main visual representation of a ‘national identity’ since ‘terra Australis Incognita’; the history of Australia’s evolution into a nation through the use of the Ned Kelly story; the acknowledgement of the altercentrism attitudes and histories of Australia depicted by the use of a Modernist style; and the evolving ‘national type’ through the use of relaxed brush work.
Australia’s landscape has preoccupied Australians since the early colonial settlers. The melancholic landscape identified by the art historians Ian McLean and Tim Bonyhady depicted the struggle with country and identity that colonising Australia faced.  Nolan’s depiction of Australian country in Ned Kelly was fundamental to the evolution of the trend of the naturalist’s depiction of country and the impressionists of the Heidelberg School. Nolan’s painting of the Australian landscape has evolved as it represented as harsh, flat, ochre and baron country, with similar visual depictions to those that Russell Drysdale and Fred Williams achieved. Nolan’s work seems to visually reflect the darker characteristics of Australia, through his depiction of a barren and harsh landscape that lacks living flora. Nolan’s depiction of the harsh landscape incorporated the nation’s reaction to the Great Depression and WWII (1929-1945), which allowed the contemporary into the evolving meme and facilitated its acceptance as a depiction of identity. Each visual representation of Australian country was ‘true’ to the ‘in-group’ viewer’s perception held within their period, however, the depiction of country morphed in reaction to the socio-political environment of Australia that was then reconstructed to reflect the new meme of ‘national identity’ and re-structure of the ‘in- and out-groups’. Ned Kelly incorporates the perceived connection that Australian cultural history has with country through the use of landscape histories as a background for the painting, which allows the depiction of an evolved narrative of ‘national identity’.
The loose and relaxed application of paint in Ned Kelly is a further hint to the history of Australian identities as it reflects the laid back, casual dress and attitudes of the morphing ‘national identity’ that gained hold and has been nourished by the reshaping of Australian ‘in-groups’ since colonisation. This laid back attitude has been strengthened as a ‘national identity’ through each period by personal resonance with these histories and attitudes that provided a sense of belonging as an Australian. This attitude was highlighted by James F. Hogan in 1880 as ‘The Coming Australian’ a ‘national type’, which held three core attitudes, the third being a dislike of mental effort. Although this ‘laid back’ ideal is represented in Ned Kelly and has gained prominence over time to be commonly recognised as an ‘Australian identity’, it can more accurately be described as a reflection of the perceptions of the popular Australian culture over time.
The symbol of the iron mask that Nolan uses to depict Kelly allows the viewer to easily place them self into the role of Ned Kelly, which incorporates the viewer in to the myth and legend that surrounds Kelly. This forcibly makes the viewer apart of the shared meme of the ‘national identity’. Nolan further ties the ‘Australian identity’ to an Australian past as an altercentrism nation that later found pride in its federation from its forbearers, represented by the depiction of the now iconic bush ranger and outlaw Ned Kelly. Similarly to the morphing narrative of history and identity outlined in Inventing Australia, Kelly’s story highlights to the nation its progression and evolution of history and identity from ‘Terra Australis Incognita’, to ‘Hell Upon Earth’, to ‘Workingman’s Paradise’, to ‘Another America’, to a ‘national type’, to ‘Bohemians and the Bush’, to ‘Young White, Happy and Wholesome’ to ‘Digger and Heroes’. The 1880 story of Irish born Ned Kelly works as a symbol and ties together the evolution that the Australian ‘national identity’ has taken. This story resonated with the Australian populous to self-identify within a 1946 atmosphere. Nolan’s use of the Kelly story visually reshaped and repackaged the evolving ‘national identity meme’.
The Modernist artistic style present in Nolan’s painting Ned Kelly is another key element that is representative of this evolution and has been incorporated and accepted into the Australian nation’s ‘identity’ of the period. The modernist style of European and British artists highlights the altercentrism root of Australian identity and its influence on culture. This incorporation of a Modern artistic style into the previously British academic tradition in art, allowed the evolution of the ‘national identity meme’. This conformity by the Australian artists and Nolan holds true to the progression of art movements and style of European descent. Nolan taught himself from the books of Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, and the Surrealists, and this education echoes this connection. The modern style of Ned Kelly’s depiction aligns with Australia’s reluctance to break physiological and historical ties with the country’s British and European heritage. Through Nolan’s alignment with the modernist style of Europe, the altercentrism roots of Australia have been integrated into, and maintained, as part of the meme of the ‘national identity’.
Nolan’s painting is seen to amalgamate White’s identified 292-year history of an evolving colonial Australia into one succinct image that is commonly recognised as the ‘Australian identity’. However this image, no matter how these histories are integrated, cannot be a true depiction of ‘national identity’ as representation of countless key elements from the focal period alone are omitted, including representation of the first people or the depiction of women. These elements have been cast aside throughout the morphing identity story that Australia seeks and constructs. This construction of identity is also present in Nolan’s creation of the Kelly Gang series, which was composed in studio 66 years after the events of the Kelly gang and highlights the fictitious nature of identity, as not something that is captured or shown but as something that is constructed. Rather than embodying the misconstrued notion of a ‘national identity’, as clearly highlighted, Nolan’s piece Ned Kelly clearly represents the perspectives of the ‘in-group’ Australian populous of the era.
The Shearing of the Rams
Tom Roberts, 1890
oil on canvas on composition board
122.4 cm, h × 183.3 cm, w
The Shearing of the Rams (1890) by Tom Roberts also acts in accordance with the evolving nature of the ‘national identity meme’. Shearing of the Rams depicts a shearing station in operation with white male workers placed poetically in the throes of labour, illuminated by the golden sunlight with not a crack or a whip in sight. Shearing of the Rams serves as a vaguely depicted ‘snap shot’ of the 1890’s ‘in-group’ perception and representation of the meme. Shearing of the Rams is said to be the first depiction of a uniquely Australian identity.  This identity was accepted as it consolidated a spirt of a nation into one ‘generally’ accepted depiction using a naturalist style of painting, which was achieved by combining the proceeding Australian histories and traditions of the educated British and Australian bourgeois and the contemporary histories and traditions of middle and working class Australia of 1880-90. Roberts’ amalgamation of pervious ideologies and identities worked to evolve the ‘national identity’ into a new depiction, as it combined the following identities outlined by White: ‘working man’s paradise’ represented by the physical labour of the shearers; the ‘another America’ represented by romanticised depiction of Australia’s largest economic export; ‘the national type’ represented by the depiction of workers within the description of the ‘imperialist archetypal’, ‘colonial type’, and ‘coming man’; the relatively new ‘bohemians and the Bush’ depicted by the two shards of landscape impressionism which represent the Heidelberg school; and ‘Terra Australis incognita’ and ‘hell upon Earth’ through the use of the academic tradition of the naturalist painters, reminding the audiences of their British connection.
The depiction of physical labour in Shearing of the Rams serves to represent the combination of history and contemporary identities of a ‘working man’s paradise’ that has evolved the ‘national identity meme’. The ‘working man’s paradise’ is described by White, between 1830 and 1850, as the luring of immigrants to the land of opportunity, a ‘hell’ that is now tamed into ‘paradise’. Roberts reshapes and reuses this identity that promotes hard work with reward, by reframing the depiction of labour as heroic and romanticised. This effortless ideal is achieved as he thrusts the labourers to the front of the painting as the subject, with golden light bouncing off each clean shirt and no sweat nor strain to be seen. This depiction of glorified and mythologised labour serves the working class, allowing the inclusion of the ‘out-group’ into Roberts’ depiction of the evolved meme of ‘national identity’.
By choosing the Australian wool industry as subject of his piece, Roberts allows the identity of ‘another America’ to be represented and its evolution depicted through the romanticising of Australia’s willing, free and strong wool industry. The Australian wool industry dominated the global market which allowed the identity of ‘another America’ to prosper as America was an industrialised British colony and considered by Australia as worthy of imitation.   Shearing of the Rams depicted the evolved meme of the ‘another America’ through its composition that presented happy, strong workers with no sign of revolt, united under the rule of an unseen owner. This shows the impact of the ‘Americanising’ industry on Australia by depicting a nation that was not in the throes of revolt and was happy and willing to work for a British master. This notion depicts Australia’s united unwillingness to fight a British audience for its independence, and contributes to the evolution of the ‘national identity meme’ through its incorporation in Shearing of the Rams. 
The identity meme of a ‘national type’ was represented in Shearing of the Rams through the depiction of shearers, with the physical description of the combination of ‘imperialist archetypal’, ‘colonial type’, and ‘coming man’ depicting the shearers as the evolved ‘national type’. The evolved ‘national type’ combined the independence, manliness and egalitarianism of the early ‘coming man’, with the established bearded male and dress sense of the ‘colonial type’, mixed with the ‘imperialist’ attitudes of the Anglo-Saxon race and pride.   A bearded white male in casual working class clothes, who is confident and proud of their labour with no master in sight, has been used to represent the evolved ‘national type’ meme in Shearing of the Rams. This depiction highlights the shift of the evolving ‘national type’ meme as the painting draws from White’s pool of ‘types’ to combine and depict a newer and more inclusive ‘national identity meme’.
The identity of ‘Bohemians and the Bush’ was depicted in Shearing of the Rams by the two shards of landscape impressionism that are representative of the Heidelberg school, of which Roberts was a member. The impressionist landscapes are used as the two focal points of the painting, highlighted by the diagonal compositional lines of shearers and gumtree railings that lead the viewer to the Australian landscape. The heart of Australian ‘national identity’ painting had previously been the landscape, and Roberts’ focus away from the landscape suggests a shift in attention toward the human endeavours of Australia rather than the depiction of country. This shift toward human endeavours facilitated the evolution of the meme and its boarder acceptance among the 1890s populous.
The use of the academic tradition in Roberts’ Shearing of the Rams connects the audiences with their British heritage and with the histories of ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ and ‘Hell Upon Earth’. The academic style was the most preferred by the British inteligencia, which allowed the image to connect with the ‘home land’ and Australian’s British heritage. The predominant use of an academic tradition rather than the impressionists tradition that Roberts has been championing at the Hieldeberg School, further highlights the connection between the visual langue of the ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ and ‘Hell Upon Earth’ periods, as these where only represented in the academic tradition. Roberts’ inclusion of the two shards of landscape allowed the meme to evolve as impressionism was accepted into the vernacular of the ‘national identity meme’, even though it was heavily steeped in tradition.
The ‘national identity meme’ evolves through the movement of time in reaction to the social, political and environmental factors, and depends on the popularity and ability to replicate itself as meme through imperfect imitation. As described through an examination of both Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly and Tom Roberts’ Shearing of the Rams, these changes encourage the groups or individuals who previously existed ‘outside’ popular perceptions or who became ‘out-groups’ due to the changes of the pervious largely accepted ‘true’ identities, to gravitate towards both new perspectives and depictions of identity or towards conformity. Nolan’s work Ned Kelly and Roberts’ work Shearing of the Rams are both commonly seen to be representative of Australia’s ‘national identity’, but rather highlight the way in which the Australian ‘national identity meme’ has evolved in its depiction throughout time and as a result of popular perspectives. Many of the ‘national identities’ identified by White are evident in both Ned Kelly and Shearing of the Rams, which emphasizes the diverse, constructed and impossibly static nature of ‘ national identities’.
 White, Richard. 1981. Inventing Australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin. P. viii
 Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The selfish gene. 30th anniversary ed. Oxford;New York;: Oxford University Press. P189-201
 Idib p.189-201
 “Most of what is unusual about man can be summed up in one word: 'culture'. I use the word not in its snobbish sense, but as a scientist uses it. Cultural transmission is analogous to genetic transmission in that, although basically conservative, it can give
Rise to a form of evolution” Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The selfish gene. 30th anniversary ed. Oxford;New York;: Oxford University Press. P. 189
 “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation,” Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The selfish gene. 30th anniversary ed. Oxford;New York;: Oxford University Press. P. 192
 Altercentrism “involves attributing one's own values to another group and at the same time evaluating that group as being more successful than one's own group in being able to achieve them. There is a bias not for one's own group but for the other group. The latter concept refers to using another group as the center of everything, and all others, including one's own group, are scaled and rated in reference to it.”…”is characteristic of countries that have a dependent relation with a powerful country.” Druckman, Daniel. 1994. Nationalism, patriotism, and group loyalty: A social psychological perspective.Mershon International Studies Review 38 (1) P. 61
 “Altercentrism leads to a negative national identity because the reference group is outside one's own country. These researchers argue that this negative self-identity can be inhibiting as people deny their possibilities and blame themselves for their condition, always looking outside themselves for the defining characteristics of what is good and important.” Idib P. 61
 Tajfel (1981, 1982) has advanced "social identity theory" to explain ingroup bias. According to this theory, people's self-evaluations are shaped in part by their group memberships so that viewing their group in positive terms enhances their self-esteem. An individual's self-esteem is further increased by making a favorable comparison between his or her own and another group. Not only are they part of a "good" group, but it is "better" than another group. The person's social identity is tied to the importance of the groups to which he or she belongs. In effect, nationalism links individuals' self-esteem to the esteem in which the nation is held. Loyalty and identification with the nation become tied to one's own sense of self. Idib p.49
 “These theories of ingroup bias show how group membership becomes entangled with the way individuals perceive themselves in relation to their world. Ingroup bias helps individuals organize their world and place themselves in that world. In turn, such bias enhances their feelings about themselves and those in their group. Membership in a clan, religious group, or ethnic group, becomes part of the individual's self-identity and critical to a sense of self-worth. The self-Nationalism, Patriotism, and Group Loyalty is threatened by information that calls into question the groups to which one belongs. People learn to react based on their loyalties; they defend those groups that are important to their definition of who they are. Moreover, these loyalties differentiate whom in their environment is appropriate to support and whom to avoid. And such loyalties can foster a consensus among members that becomes self-fulfilling and difficult to change. The stronger the loyalty, the more likely members of a group are to hold similar views and endorse similar strategies. They approach the world in lockstep, perceiving and defining others in the world similarly.” Idib p. 49-50
 White, Richard. 1981. Inventing australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin.
 Idib, White
 Druckman, Daniel. 1994. Nationalism, patriotism, and group loyalty: A social psychological perspective. Mershon International Studies Review 38 (1).
 Ian McLean, ‘Under Saturn: Melancholy and the Colonial Imagination’, in Nicholas Thomas and Diane Losche, eds, Double Vision: Art Histories and Colonial Histories in the Pacific, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 131-62
 Bonyhady, Tim, and Australian National Gallery. 1987.The colonial image: Australian painting 1800-1880. Chippendale, N.S.W: Ellysd Press.
 White, Richard. 1981. Inventing Australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin. P. 77.
 White, Richard. 1981. Inventing Australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin.
 Eggert, Paul. 2007. The bushranger's voice: Peter carey's "true history of the kelly gang" (2000) and ned kelly's "jerilderie letter" (1879). College Literature 34 (3): 120-39
 Modern art can be described as “Challenging the notion that art must realistically depict the world, some artists experimented with the expressive use of color, non-traditional materials, and new techniques and mediums.” Museum of Modern Art. n.d. Museum of Modern Art, New York, What is Modern Art. https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/what-is-modern-art(accssed 11/05/2016)
 Art Gallery of New South Wales. n.d. Art Gallery of NSW, artist profile: Sidney Nolan. http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/nolan-sidney/ (accessed 10/04/2016)
 Shearing of the Rams “It is regarded as an outstanding painting within a period usually heralded as the ' Golden Age' of Australian art and it is one of the first images to which Australians turn when wishing to illustrate the 'characteristically Australian ' .” Smith, Terry. 2002. Transformations in australian art. St Leonards, N.S.W: Craftman House/Fine Art Publishing. pp70
 “Despite its academic characteristics, its subject and the descriptiveness of the treatment would make it immediately familiar to audiences not in the habit of looking at art. Shearing the Rams was a major attempt to produce an image which would be of relevance to two different and distinct audiences. Its academic Naturalism linked it with the leading tendency of educated bourgeois taste in both Britain and Australia. At the same time, its relationship to the popular imagery of 'life in the bush' made it accessible to ' uncultivated' bourgeois, middle and working class ways of seeing. This implies a populist outlook, an understanding of society as consisting of two 'classes': 'the wealthy' and 'the people '.” Idib pp 80
 “between 1830 and 1850, Hell was turned into Paradise”…”they were lured by a new image of Australia as a land of opportunity for all comers, and above all for the working man” White, Richard. 1981. Inventing australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin. P. 29.
 “The painting also shares much of the same relationship to social ideologies in what I shall argue to be its abstract sympathy, its mystification of social relationships and its idealisation of work.” Smith, Terry. 2002. Transformations in australian art. St Leonards, N.S.W: Craftman House/Fine Art Publishing. p. 76.
 “Initiated by the mineral discoveries, the Long Boom (1861-91) was founded in massive British capital investment, mostly into the pastoral industry, which enabled exports of wool to grow so quickly that, by the 1870 s , Australian exports dominated t h e world wool market.” Idib p. 82.
 “it was the united states which stood out among these new societies. Because of its position as the oldest, biggest and most advanced of the new societies, it was commonly considered to be, as the Australian put it in 1831, ‘a model for all new countries and New South Wales (hereafter) in particular’. It was a model not only in the sense of being worthy of imitation, but also in the other nineteenth-century sense of being the archetypal example of a new society, and therefore the one to which the others would assimilate simply because they were all thought to be going through the same experience“ White, Richard. 1981. Inventing australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin. pp 49
 on a scale unmatched elsewhere in the world, and as a symbol of the production of a raw material which was crucial to British industry. And it would have been satisfying, positively reassuring, in that it shows Australian colonials happy to serve Britain's needs.
 The Coming Australian “Independence, manliness, a fondness for sport, egalitarianism, a dislike of mental effort, self-confidence, a certain disrespect for authority” White, Richard. 1981. Inventing Australia: Images and identity, 1688-1980. Vol. no. 3. Sydney ; Boston: Allen & Unwin. P. 77.
 “The Australasian will be square-headed, masterful man, with full temples, plenty of beard, a keen eye, a stern and yet sensual mouth.” Marcus Clarke, 1877. Cited in Ian Turner (ed), The Australian Dream, p. 130.
 Australians shared Joseph Chamberlain imperialist archetype “in this Anglo-Saxon race, so proud, so tenacious, self-confident and determined, this race which neither climate nor change can degenerate,” Cited in James Laver, The Age of Optimism, p. 230.
 “Only later was Roberts' leadership in the Heidelberg group appreciated again. Today it is conventional to speak of Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton and Conder as 'the first to capture the true vision of the country, to break away from the idealized interpretations that went before” Smith, Bernard, Anthony Bradley, and Terry Smith. 1980.Australian art and architecture: Essays presented to bernard smith. Oxford ; New York ; Melbourne: Oxford University Press. P. 96-97
 Lanscape painting of the 1850-1950 “Over this century, landscape painting was the “great” subject of Australian art, a theme that reflected the changing nature of a nation’s identity. “ National Gallery of Australia. n.d. Ocean to Outback: Australian Landscape Painting 1850–1950, National Gallery of Australia. http://nga.gov.au/exhibition/oceantooutback/ (accessed 11/05/2016)
 “Despite its academic characteristics, its subject and the descriptiveness of the treatment would make it immediately familiar to audiences not in the habit of looking at art. Shearing the Rams was a major attempt to produce an image which would be of relevance to two different and distinct audiences. Its academic Naturalism linked it with the leading tendency of educated bourgeois taste in both Britain and Australia. At the same time, its relationship to the popular imagery of 'life in the bush' made it accessible to ' uncultivated' bourgeois, middle and working class ways of seeing. This implies a populist outlook, an understanding of society as consisting of two 'classes': 'the wealthy' and 'the people '.” Smith, Terry. 2002. Transformations in australian art. St Leonards, N.S.W: Craftman House/Fine Art Publishing.