Oscar’s Sketchbook

This is a really interesting sketchbook, now part of the collection of the National Museum of Australia. It belonged to a young Aboriginal man named Oscar. The article is a bit vague about the circumstances of Oscar’s life– it sounds like he could have been a slave, or indentured servant, or at best an orphan who was compelled to become a child laborer in the 1880s gold rush in Australia, as many Indigenous people were. The only thing that is really known is that he was a talented artist, and his “boss,” Augustus Henry Glidden, gave him a notebook to draw in, which became part of a museum collection.

Oscar’s sketchbook contains drawings by a young Aboriginal man who grew up in Far North Queensland in the late 1880s.

Oscar’s pencil drawings range from scenes of traditional ceremonies, to interactions with Europeans and places he visited in the surrounding area. It is a rare record of life in the late 19th century from an Aboriginal person’s perspective.

Read more at Oscar’s Sketchbook. You can see the whole sketchbook here: National Museum of Australia

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