Imagining Ned Exhibition

How often do you see a photo of the back of the armour? And is that Dees family reflection?
Or the side?

Great Depiction of the Gang by Chevalier Matania, 1930. 
This work was on loan from “The Collection of Leigh Olver” 
the Kelly descendant whose Mitochondrial DNA matched that of the Bones identified as Neds.
Autumn colour in the Streets of Bendigo
The two huge works on the left are amazing carpet reproductions of famous Nolan Paintings
Cabinet contains old Ned magazines and comics  
Ned the Gay Icon

I finally got to see this exhibition, and I am not sure it was worth the effort, but as the photos show, I did get to see Neds armour, his gun, the Jerilderie Letter and Neds Death mask, among other things. I was particularly on the look-out for the Banker Letters that the NKF members got so excited about in January, because it had been suggested then that if found to be genuine they might be included in this exhibition but they weren’t. NKF members trumpeted that these letters debunked Ian MacFarlanes book, claimed they had more information to be released in due course and harshly abused me for expressing scepticism about these letters and their credulous over-the-top reactions to them. Well, these letters seems to have sunk without trace, they haven’t dared to mention them again anywhere so I guess that concludes that particular saga with the NKF red-faced.

Neds Snider enfield Rifle

Actually that rifle of Neds has inscriptions carved into it which would further embarrass one of the NKF members who already has egg on his face from the Letters saga. He is the so-called “Neducator” who claims Neds girlfriend was a distant relative of his, but he has never had the courage of his convictions to make his evidence publicly available for scrutiny, so who knows? The Exhibition reports that, as you can dimly see on the above photo 

“The first and clearest of these (inscriptions) is on the right hand side of the butt and reads NK son of Red. The conjoined NK is reminiscent of Neds brand which was a reversed K and E conjoined. Neds father was known as Red Kelly. The second inscription on the left hand side of the butt is a cryptogram. The upper drawing is of a deer, beneath which is the letter K and the number eight(k8) and below that is a heart shape with the letters U and R inside it. The Cryptogram reads Dear/Kate/You are/in my heart. It is know acknowledged that Neds sweetheart was Kate lloyd, daughter of Tom Llloyd. At the time this would not have been widely known”

However the Neducator might have approved of this information:
 For Kids: During his life Ned Kelly was already well known. Some people thought he was bad, that he had broken the Law and done terrible things. Other people thought that there were reasons for what had happened and that Ned had just been trying to help his family. The story of Ned kelly and the Kelly Gang was talked about In Australia and over seas and people wrote books plays and films about it.
In this room you can see lots of different pictures of Ned. Can you find the postcards? And the cards from chocolate boxes? Do you think people would have liked to collect the whole set? Why?”

Call me old fashioned but I am nauseated by this sort of  propagandist approach to history for kids. It is misrepresentation to write that  “some people THOUGHT  Ned Kelly had broken the law and done terrible things” – the FACTS are that he DID break the Law and do terrible things. By all means discuss WHY he might have broken the Law or done terrible things, or the fairness of the Laws, but to begin by suggesting there was some sort of balnced debate about whether he even broke the Law or was just trying to help his family is a dumb way to tell history unless you are wanting to persuade young minds to a particular view of it. 

The exhibition, being held in an Art Gallery rather than a Museum was understandably focussed on cultural aspects of the Kelly story rather than true History, and it was a nice little window into the art and literature that has continued right to the present, and the small number of historical items like the armour and the gun helped to put these images into context. Overall one would probably come away with an impression that Ned was misunderstood, that the “Hero or Villain” debate was still unresolved, an impression that would not have been left if I had been the curator!

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5 Replies to “Imagining Ned Exhibition”

  1. Ed Hamley says: Reply

    Dee, how many of the exhibits were originals? The SLV has already had Ned's pocket Colt revolver stolen from a Museum in Chicago. Would be terrible if further public items somehow went astray.

    I know someone who did a report about the 'Larkau' Snider Enfield rifle for SLV but concluded there was too much in the way of self-serving engraving/identification on it. It was a case of too much information. However, I found in "The Kelly Gang Unmasked", in an unpublished list of sympathisers, a family at Lake Rowan by the name of .Larkau existed, and could have been the people/lady that donated it. Another mystery.

    Nice photos. How much did it cost to get in. Did you have to pay to get out, too?

  2. Poindexter says: Reply

    I have seen a closeup of Joe Byrne's face before (from the Olver collection group). Had I been a curator, I would also have chosen some of Bill's cartography and illustrations some of which were used in FitzSimons' book. Gay Ned needed cold-spoon treatment. The Williamstown landmark where Ned worked as a convict could have provided something completely 'new'.

  3. Who Cares? says: Reply

    Iron Outlaw said on April 1 that he was going to the exhibition. Forty days later – Nothing. Maybe he was disappointed too.

  4. Gotta say that nowadays there are gifted, creative people doing Ned metalwork and artwork.

    Their work was not well represented at the backwards-looking Bendigo Gallery though.

  5. Bill Bainbridge says: Reply

    It could have been a lot better. I was left emotionless and blank.

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