Mathinna In 1842 Thomas Bock was commissioned by Lady Jane Franklin, Governor John Franklins wife, to paint a portrait of Mathinna. Born on Flinders Island in 1835, her parents Towterer and Wongerneep had been captured by Robinson and taken to live on Flinders Island. Mathinna was uprooted and taken to live with the Franklins in Government House in Hobart. In 1844 when the Franklins left Van Diemens Land Mathinna was abandoned. Twelve years later in 1856 her life was extinguished.
Dressed in her new red dress, her feet bare. The choice of oval framing conveniently hid Mathinna's bare feet from public gaze. In her photogram honoring Mathinna, Christina deliberately shows her bare feet, ornately portrayed to emphasize her traditional dress code, a celebration of her true culture.
My collograph print Mathinna, was initiated by research on Lady Jane Franklin. I chose to portray Mathinna as life size with no visual reference to Lady Jane Franklin, other than the influence she brought to bear on the clothes her adopted child wore. The red dress, a visual reminder of her westernized life. During my research I came across two letters. The letter from Mathinna read:
I have pen and ink cause I am good little girl. I have got a doll and a shift and a new petticoat. I have got a red frock. I have got sore feet and shoes and stockings, and I am very glad.
This extremely moving letter stood out in stark contrast to the words of Lady Jane Franklin:
The influence of some degree of civilization upon a child who in spite of every endeavour, and though entirely apart from her own people, retains much of the un-conquerable nature of the savage.
After reading these words I decided to focus on the child Mathinna and reflect the poignancy of her life and the tragedy that befell her. In my interpretation Mathinna is larger than life in contrast to her tiny image in Thomas Bocks famous Watercolour painting commissioned by Lady Jane Franklin. The focus of this work is designed to promote discussion onthe injustice done not only to Mathinna but to all her people. I believe if stories such as these arent given a voice then we all remain in ignorance.