The Australian wedding venue, which caused an angry reaction online because of a painting hanging on its wall, has removed the artwork and apologized for any offense caused.
Redleaf Wollombi, located in New South Wales’ scenic Hunter Valley, has come under intense fire after a wedding party was photographed smiling in front of the painting – an image that was uploaded to the venue’s Instagram page before it was deleted.
Critics accused Redleaf of displaying artwork that showed a massacre of the natives, even though the painting in question actually depicted the Portuguese colonization of Brazil.
“We deeply regret that we have caused any offense in connection with the paintings on display at Redleaf. The venue said in a statement to news.com.au.
“Those who have stayed at Redleaf are aware that there is a multitude of artworks throughout the property, including art by First Nations artists, as well as emerging artists.
However, the main panel that dominated the debate was the wallpaper Brazil Perspectives (1829), designed by Jean-Julien Deltel, an artist hired by the Zuber Manufactory, in France, in the nineteenth century. This wallpaper is still produced by this manufacturer, using original photographs by traveling artist Johann Mortiz Rugendas.
The three paintings on display were given to the owner of Redleaf by a close family friend who had passed away several years earlier. These paintings form part of a larger area of over 30 that can be seen here.
“We are very sorry to learn that over the weekend we caused offense to several people who noticed the paintings in the photos on our social media (which we have since removed). We are very sorry that we caused anyone to feel pain at the sight of the paintings; This was not our intention.
When the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in association with the National Gallery of Australia, held an exhibition of similar work, John McPhee writes that he was “moved” to see artists in 1829 who were aware of the ill influence of European civilization on different cultures.
We retain a full copy of John McPhee’s article displayed alongside this wallpaper, along with a photo of the full 30 panels. This is a deliberate effort by Redleaf to ensure that anyone viewing the panel has a full understanding of the context of the three panels, along with this negative history.
Once again, we unreservedly apologize for any distress these images may have caused. All images of the painting have been removed from Instagram and we have now taken views of Brazil so they are no longer shown.
“We respectfully request that any comments towards clients (brides and grooms) and other vendors (including photographers) cease immediately. Any inference that they were willfully racist is simply incorrect.”
Earlier, a screenshot of Redleaf’s initial Instagram post was uploaded by Dreamtime Aroha, a small indigenous owned and operated business.
“Nothing compares to getting married and posing in front of the indigenous people who are being massacred by the colonialists,” she wrote on Facebook.
On Instagram, the screenshot was captioned: “Not sure at what point anyone would lock themselves in or agree to take a wedding photo in front of a painting of a brutal Aboriginal massacre? This was sent to me because the person didn’t know how to approach the place well, I’m just a woman.” From Blak you ask what the hell is that?”
The post was then shared by TV and radio personality Abby Chatfield, who has 451,000 followers on Instagram.
People on social media said they contacted the venue and asked it to remove the painting, with some suggesting it should be replaced with a work by a First Nations artist.
This is sickening. I’m going to send a message to the place and I think we all (and we all mean allies) need to start doing this. It’s okay if we don’t have the most eloquent words, one person wrote, we just need to express our feelings about it and make it clear that it has to come down. “.
“How did the wedding planner, photographer and wedding guests not notice the outrageous piece of art? Hey, just pause in front of the massacre,” said another.
“Why on earth do they think a picture depicting murder would be good in a wedding setting? Even worse, it’s about a very real history, but whoever originally looked at the painting and thought “bride and grooms are going to love pictures of murder in their wedding photos, that’s perfect” is like.. What?!” III interrogated.
On its website, the popular wedding venue, which also offers accommodations, includes suggestions for things to do in the area, including tours with Aboriginal guides.
“Experience the rich Aboriginal and colonial history, including the convict-built Great Northern Way, museum, and historic buildings,” he says.
The name “Wollombi” is Aboriginal and means “meeting place” or “the meeting place of the waters.” “