Lin Onus

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William McLintock Onus (Lin Onus AM) (4 December 1948 - 23 October 1996[1]) was a Scottish-Aboriginal Artist of Onus and was born at the Cummeragunja Mission to William Townsend Onus Sr and Maud Mary Onus née Nelson (Yorta Yorta), who were of the Wiradjuri paternal and Yorta Yorta maternal people from New South Wales/Victoria. Onus was educated at Thomas Shadrach James' mission school in Cummeragunja and spent two years at school in Echuca from the age of ten.[1] descent[2] from Melbourne, Australia.

Early life[edit]

Born Lin Burralung McLintock Onus, his father was political activist and businessman, Bill Onus. His father became the founder of the Aboriginal Advancement League and the first Aboriginal JP, dying in 1968, a year after the fruits of a long campaign, the referendum giving Aborigines the right to vote.[3]

Onus was largely a self-taught urban artist who began as a motor mechanic before making artifacts for the tourist market with his father's business, Aboriginal Enterprise Novelties.[4]

Career[edit]

Onus became a successful painter, sculptor and maker of prints. His painting Barmah Forest won Canberra's national Aboriginal Heritage Award in 1994.[5]

The works of Onus often involve symbolism from Aboriginal styles of painting, along with recontextualisation of modern artistic elements. The images in his works include haunting portrayals of the Barmah red gum forests of his father's ancestral country, and the use of rarrk cross-hatching-based based painting style that he learned (and was given permission to use)[6] when visiting the Indigenous communities of Maningrida.

His most famous work, Michael and I are just slipping down to the pub for a minute, has been featured on a postcard, and is a reference to his colleague, artist Michael Eather. The painting is of a dingo riding on the back of a stingray which is meant to symbolise his mother's and father's cultures combining in reconciliation. The image of the wave is borrowed from The Great Wave of Kanagawa (1832), by Japanese printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai.

Honour[edit]

In 1993 Lin Onus received the award Member of the Order of Australia "for service to the arts as a painter and sculptor and to the promotion of aboriginal artists and their work."[7]

Death[edit]

Lin Onus had a heart attack and died at the age of 47. He was buried at the settlement of Cummeragunja on the NSW-Victorian border-line.

Major collections[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The obituary page 1994-:The visual arts 1996". Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Onus, L., Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 1994, p. 823
  3. ^ The Age article, "Into the Dreamtime", obituary by Adrien Newstead, 1996 [1]
  4. ^ See entries on both son Lin and father William in the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 1994
  5. ^ Alan McCulloch, Susan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, 'Onus, Lin', in McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art (4th edition), Aus Art Editions and The Miegunyah Press, MUP, 2006, p. 127
  6. ^ Amanda Ladds, 'The Reconciler', The Blurb, Issue 27
  7. ^ Australian Honours List 1993 | Retrieved 5 March 2013
  8. ^ "The Holmes à Court Collection". Holmes à Court Gallery. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Amanda Ladds, 'The Reconciler', The Blurb, Issue 27
  • Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Onus, L., Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 2001
  • Alan McCulloch, Susan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, 'Onus, Lin', in McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art (4th edition), Aus Art Editions and The Miegunyah Press, MUP, 2009
  • Mary Travers, 'Death of Lin Onus', Art Monthly Australia, no. 96, 1996, p. 43
  • Humphrey McQueen, 'Art Indigneous - Onus', retrieved July 2007
  • Louise Bellamy, 'Onus goes on show', The Age (newspaper), 23 February 2005.