Picturing the National: Australian Art and the Australian Films of Ealing Studios, 1946-59

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar


From the outset, Ealing's Australian project was explicitly concerned with an investigation of Australian identity and nationhood. Its five films largely draw their narratives from pre-existing sources (recent events, historical moments, a novel), and rely heavily upon the national archetypes so prevalent in Australian verse and literature (the drover, the 'digger', the pioneer family, the swagman, the anti-authoritarian). Presented as part of the Menzies Centre's 'landscape and visual culture' seminar series - timed to coincide with the Royal Academy's survey exhibition of Australian art - this paper explores the extent to which visual representations of Australia by painters, printmakers and photographers might also have influenced the five films made in Australia by Ealing Studios - The Overlanders (Harry Watt, 1946), Eureka Stockade (Watt, 1949), Bitter Springs (Ralph Smart, 1950), The Shiralee (Leslie Norman, 1957) and The Siege of Pinchgut (Watt, 1959) - and ponders the extent to which, in some ways, the visual similarities might simply indicate an element of 'visual truth' about the inherent 'look' of Australia and Australian life.
Period16 Oct 2013
Event titleMenzies Centre for Australian Studies: 2013/14 seminar series
Event typeSeminar
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map


  • Australian Cinema
  • Transnational Cinema
  • British Cinema
  • Australian Art
  • Visual Art
  • Visual Culture
  • Ealing Studios