Something Missing

Jillian Mundy, Something Missing, 2021. Film; Viewing enclosure made from repurposed materials; television screen; blackboard paint; chalk.


Artist statement

Immortalising individuals who have done terrible things is not good practice by most people's standards in 2021. 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 is missing? Do they want the statue gone? Are they ashamed of missing history?

Something Missing explores answers to these questions from people who pass through the park every day and the work will continue, or perhaps hasten, the conversation about what we do with these chunks of metal.


Artist bio

Jillian Mundy is a palawa women living in nipaluna (Hobart). She is a freelance writer and photographer, working predominantly for the Koori Mail National Indigenous newspaper for the last 15 years. Over recent years she has been exploring work as a filmmaker and artist.

She hopes her Something Missing art work has a positive influence - whether it be making one person's day brighter or contributing to positive change in the world.


Launch speech

This speech was read by Jillian Mundy at the launch of her artwork Something Missing on 18 November 2021 in Franklin Square:

First thank you to Troy Melville for collaborating on the film and Cody Summers, Karadi and their Men's Shed for collaborating on the black box and providing space to repurpose it, the other artists who have educated so many people on some of this states missing history, the City of Hobart and most importantly the people who shared their voices.

I reckon people expected me to collect the voices of Aboriginal people – which is what I usually do of course. But our people, the Tasmanian Aboriginal community have made it clear over decades, in conversation, in poetry, in the media this statue is racist, offensive, insulting and should go.

It has largely fallen on deaf ears.

I wondering how offended others were of this statue, if they even knew who the statue was of and what it symbolised to Aboriginal people, what is symbolised to them.

So I headed out and collected vox pops from people who used the park - people eating lunch, waiting for the bus, sitting in the shade (or sun depending on the weather) or skateboarding near the fountain.

I guessed correctly many would not know who the statute was of, and if they did, many people would not know Crowther's full history.

What I was unprepared for, was that the vast majority of people who knew that history, or once they did, wanted the statue gone. Only three or four people out of around 100 interviewed had a strong view on it staying - but they all wanted the truth told.

People told me they were ashamed and embarrassed that the statue remains, that it should have gone long ago, they are saddened.

I've been told by one activist 'don't read the comments', referring to the inevitable racist online comments when mainstream media mentions anything to do with Aboriginal people, rights, history or opinion. If I had listened to their advice sooner I might have realised that the wider Nipaluna (Hobart) community, are more compassionate and supportive of truth telling than I had given them credit for. I apologise.

While working on this project I began thinking about internalised bias.

Now, I'm scared shitless of spiders, and most of my life I've instinctively turned to the closest man to quickly euthanise any poor spider that crosses my path, or relocate it a very, very, very long way away from me – I think this is unconscious sexism. To be honest I haven't cared too much if they were scared, the men I'm talking about not the spider, until the other week – a bit of self awareness never goes astray.

We've all got these internal discriminatory things – it's subconscious, learnt from what happens around us without us even realising it.

As I said our voices don't seem to have been heard.

We and the growing number of people that support us get dismissed as being lefty, woke, causing division, we're told to drink a cup of cement, get over it, you've probably heard it all before, we're presented as angry ranting Aborigines, a minority taking up space.

I think we're all so used to it that we are desensitised to it – pretty awful when you stop and think about that, a sad reflection of our society.

Anyway, I'm thinking our pleas to remove this statue have ignored because of unconscious racism – I'm not calling anyone a blatant racist, and I'm sure no one wants to be a racist. Well I hope not.

We've all got these internalised unconscious biases, we are all flawed humans, striving - I hope, to be better humans.

My hope is that the powers that be will hear our voices and the voices in the black box, recognise that leaving this shrine here glorifies brutal acts of colonialism and is a symbol of disrespect not only to my ancestors and my community, but to First Nations people everywhere, and I think it's fair to say most Hobartians too, and act accordingly – sooner rather than later.

And if that's not enough, lets consider it's not the decision makers future, your future or mine, for much more than the next few decades, it's our children's and their children's after that - lets show them some respect and hope too.

Thank you for listening.