The Federation Tapestry: Alone in the Bush

This panel forms the third in the suite of tapestries which make up the Federation Tapestry.

Federation Tapestry: Alone in the Bush

Alone in the Bush

Alone in the Bush, designed by Sydney artist and musician Reg Mombassa, depicts the loneliness and isolation many Europeans experienced on arrival in Australia and as they attempted to make a life in the vast incongruous landscape of the Australian continent. The artist took his inspiration from an early 19th century Staffordshire plate brought to Hobart by an early settler. As his central motif, he chose a lonely prophetic figure, a shepherd in the wilderness, seated in front of a contemporary suburban bungalow and reading the Bible to an audience of birds and animals.

The shepherd newcomer, his collie dog and a sheep are juxtaposed against other animals, including a kangaroo now under the control of the British crown. These represent the native fauna which was soon displaced by the immigrants from Europe. The artist believes that ‘It has taken time, cultural conditioning, air conditioning and insecticides to help us to appreciate and love the Australian landscape as we now do’.

Federation Tapestry: Original design for Alone in the Bush.

Original design for Alone in the Bush.


Samples for Alone in the Bush showing use of silver thread.

Federation Tapestry: Detail of Alone in the Bush in progress on the loom.

Detail of Alone in the Bush in progress on the loom.

As they wove the decorative pattern around the ‘plate’, the weavers wanted to capture the subtle tonal gradations of the artist’s rendering and to retain the rich glowing quality of the foliage. Silver thread was added to highlight certain areas in the border and title of the tapestry panel.

Alone in the Bush

Artist: Reg Mombassa

Size: 200 x 194 cm

The Federation Tapestry was supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Federation Fund.

Further Reading

Latreille, Anne and Walker, Murray 2001. The Federation Tapestry: one people united in peace. Catalogue available from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and the Melbourne Museum Shop

Walker, Sue (Ed.) 2000. Modern Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry. Workshop. The Beagle Press.

1995. Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Brochures: Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne’s Marvellous Tapestries

Video: 1997 Contemporary Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Comments (1)

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Caroline Tully 30 January, 2011 21:52
You should also mention the WEAVERS who worked on this project. For example this tapestry was woven by me (Caroline Tully), Claudia LoPriore and Laura Marr.
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