The aesthetic link between these disparate ideas is the patterning they have left on the environment, both external and internal environments. It is these designs that Tiernan returns to again and again in her recent paintings.
Bill Gammage’s ground-breaking book, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia(Allen & Unwin, 2012) was an early motivation and inspiration for this series. The paintings, like the book, explore the contrasting ways our ancient continent has been viewed and managed by “newcomers” and First Australians and how that practice has affected the people involved in it.
Fire, grass, kangaroos, the forest’s edge and human endeavour are focal points in Indigenous and non-Indigenous land management and the disparity in understanding between these elements and practices reveals the space between black and white conceptions of this continent. It is the patterning of these components that has become the focus of Tiernan’s new work.
Tiernan uncovers the beauty in Western design ideals because she relates Aboriginal understanding of beauty in the land to western ideas of beauty in the household. For early settlers home was inside, their houses were the space they could control, while for Aboriginals home was outside, in Country.
At home both peoples desired balance.