Macmillan, $60.00 hb, 784 pp
Almost at the end of his very long biography, Tom Roberts, Humphrey McQueen wonders why – if Australian landscape painting had so much need of a father – ‘no-one thought to install Margaret Preston as the mother’ of the genre? He has a suggestive answer to a question which needed to be posed:
That landscape art should seek a father when our culture describes nature and the earth as mothers is not a contradiction. We distinguish the given as feminine from the created as masculine. Nurturing is perceived as a passive bearing whereas men transform nature by their activities, whether ringbarking or painting.