Poster, Victoria and Melbourne Centenary Celebrations 1934
Australian National Travel Association
Troedel and Cooper Pty Ltd
Poster, Victoria and Melbourne Centenary Celebrations
Dimensions (H x W x D)
60 x 100 cm (frame size)
" THIS WILL BE THE PLACE FOR A VILLAGE " / Extract from JOHN BATMAN'S diary, / June 8TH, 1835 / VICTORIAN & MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA / CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS. / SEASON 1934 - 35
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection
By the time commercial artist Percy Trompf (1902–64) illustrated this poster celebrating the centenary of Melbourne in 1935 (one of two in the collection), he had already gained an international reputation for his distinctive poster style, even winning an annual industrial poster competition awarded by the Royal College of the Arts, London, in 1934. His widely recognised travel posters for the Australian National Travel Association and the Victorian Railways are strong, optimistic representations of modernising Australia, emerging from the not-so-distant dark years of the Depression. They express both consummate technical skill and an idealised vision of the interwar nation.
Trompf’s posters generally feature simple narratives, bold colours and forms, strong light and dramatic elements. This poster, however, is perhaps more graphically complex than is typical for the artist, presenting an historical narrative fraught from the perspective of our own time. In this, the ghostly figure of a ‘heroic’ John Batman stands on the banks of the Yarra, surveying the modern city across the waters, his famous words printed alongside: ‘this will be the place for a village’. Shaped by the ideological framework of its own time, this centenary poster situates Batman as the beneficent founding father of Melbourne, from whose efforts advancement was made possible. The myopia of the period erases all traces of Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri presence, giving to the lie of terra nullius that prevailed for so long.