Summary

Alternative Name(s): Placemat, Cloth, Table Mat

White place mat printed in pink with three principal images: two emus, three fish, and a kangaroo, platypus and goanna (or similar). The images reference traditional Aboriginal artforms. Made by John Rodriquez for commercial sale.

John Rodriquez studied art and design at RMIT in the late 1940s and became well known for his screen-printed textile designs in the early 1950s. From 1950 to 1980 he was one of a handful of Australian textile designers who developed a new contemporary style with innovative use of colour. His designs in the early 1950s were mostly of Aboriginal or geometric style. Later he turned to more abstract designs in the Scandinavian style. Later still he made bold use of colour. Rodriquez introduced unique Australian styles which have been imitated often since. He always stressed the importance of innovation. Many homes in Australia and overseas still have his art works in the linen cupboard.

John Rodriquez retired in 1988, handing the Rodriquez company to his son Rimian, who has computerised the screen printing and mostly employs other designers for the products, but still uses a few of his father's most popular designs. Rodriquez passed away in 2000.

Physical Description

White place mat printed in pink with three principal images: two emus, three fish, and a kangaroo, platypus and goanna (or similar). Each is surrounded by partial borders. The top and bottom of the printed area features a row of parallel lines and dots. Fringe 3mm wide around.

Significance

See Narrative 'John Rodriquez Textile Collection'.

The significance of this object lies, in part, in its use of Aboriginal imagery. The use of Australian motifs, including Aboriginal imagery, flora and fauna, became fashionable during the 1940s and 1950s. These motifs expressed a growing sense of Australian identity while the nation was experiencing the social upheavals of war and mass migration. Many immigrant artists also began to adopt these motifs as they settled into their new country. Aboriginal imagery expressed complex attitudes to Australia’s first inhabitants: as culturally interesting, representing connection to place and landscape, yet signifying a distant, pre-civilised time, in contrast to modern Australia. The fact that much of the Aboriginal imagery was appropriated without permission or compensation was far from the thoughts of most commercial artists of the time.

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