In 1811, artist Joseph Lycett was found guilty of forging bank notes and sentenced to 14 years’ transportation to New South Wales. He would go on to paint intricate scenes of Aboriginal life in the Newcastle region, which show how Aboriginal people adapted to European settlement before cultural destruction took its toll.

In the Library’s Foyer on Friday morning, more than 70 guests attended the launch of True Light and Shade: An Aboriginal Perspective of Joseph Lycett's Art by John Maynard. After a welcome to country given by Ngambri man Paul House, Professor Mick Dodson launched the book, regaling a captivated audience with Lycett’s life story. On Lycett’s remarkable paintings of Aboriginal life in the Newcastle region, Professor Dodson commented that those of night scenes were the artist’s best.

The camaraderie between long-time friends Professor Dodson and Professor John Maynard (who is a Worimi man from the Newcastle/Port Stephens region) was obvious, and there was even a reference to a lobster-eating affair in the US some time ago! Liz Faul’s stunning design of the book was mentioned several times during the event; books were snapped up by audience members and there was a long line snaking its way to a table where John was writing dedications on each copy presented to him. At the launch, as well as interested members of the public, there were people from the Wollotuka Institute, University of Newcastle; the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies; and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University. 

Professor Mick Dodson AM and Professor John Maynard