Vale: Bea Maddock

Bea Maddock with TERRA SPIRITUS … with a darker shade of pale 1993–98 on display at the Queensland Art Gallery, 2000 / © QAGOMA

The Gallery acknowledges and is saddened by the recent passing of Beatrice (Bea) Maddock in Launceston, Tasmania on 9 April 2016. Maddock, one of Australia’s much loved and respected contemporary artists was awarded the Order of Australia in 1991.

Between 1993 and 1998 Maddock created TERRA SPIRITUS … with a darker shade of pale, a panoramic drawing of the coastal profile of Tasmania which is her magnum opus comprising 51 sheets in ochre on paper, extending for 40 metres in one single line.


TERRA SPIRITUS… is a unique memorial to the first Tasmanians. The language of past lives and the rich ochre base of the drawings is immediately linked with red earth and the spiritual associations it has for Indigenous peoples. The continuous drawing of the coastline of Tasmania unfolds along the top portion of each sheet, each connecting seamlessly to the others. Maddock writes:

‘I see Tasmania as defined by its coastline… it is something that encloses, so you get the idea of circumnavigating, going around, something’.

In preparation for this major project, Maddock made careful calculations on graph paper from topographical maps and constructed mylar templates of the landscape forms which she then inscribed as line directly into the paper. The ochre (as crayon) was worked over the incisions and letterpress. Finally, the place names in Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) languages were calligraphically drawn across the panoramic sheets. They are juxtaposed with European nomenclature (in letterpress), providing a rhythm and counterpoint of cross-culturalism.

We also remember Bea Maddock with our previous post Experience the Journey: Bea Maddock’s TERRA SPIRITUS…

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Bea Maddock, Australia 1934-2016 / TERRA SPIRITUS … with a darker shade of pale (details) 1993–98 / Incised drawings, worked with hand-ground natural pigments over letterpress and finished with hand-drawn script on Magnani paper / 51 sheets / Purchased 1999. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist