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Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer

The nips are getting bigger / I'd better go get somethin' harder #6 (beer bottle)

Date: 2015
Overall: 27 × 90 × 75 mm
Medium: Glass, ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Karla Dickens
Object Name: Bottle
Object No: 00054601

User Terms

    A brown glass bottle used by Karla Dickens in her body of work 'The nips are getting bigger / I'd better go get somethin' harder'. This work features a selection of beer and whiskey bottles modified by Dickens as a commentary on the devastating effect alcohol, tobacco and disease have had on Australia's Indigenous people.

    This XXXX brand beer bottle is topped with a navy tricorne, simulating the military hats worn by Captain Cook and his men. It accompanies a limited edition Captain Cook shaped whiskey bottle (00054616).
    SignificanceThis artwork demonstrates the vibrant style of a contemporary Aboriginal Australian artist, and assists in the interpretation of Aboriginal history, culture and tradition and gives an Indingenous dialogue to European occupation of Australia.
    HistoryThe artwork 'The nips are getting bigger / I'd better get somethin' harder' by Karla Dickens is named after the song by the Australian band Metal as Anything.
    In talking about this large work, compromising of 28 modified and decorated bottles, Karla Dickens recounts;

    "They came about when I was researching the well-known Broken Bay Aboriginal man Bungaree..Part of Bungaree's story is that he was introduced to alcohol by colonial settlers and, thereafter, was often paid in alcohol for services rendered. This was not unusual in early Sydney, with rum being used as an official currency in the new colony. As a celebrity, and to some degree an entertainer (due to his ability to mimic the early Colonial Governors and other notables). Bungaree was often invited to official and non-official functions where drinking alcohol was the norm. He was possibly the first Aboriginal man accepted into such circumstances and probably one of the first of his race to succumb to the perils of drunkenness. The limited edition 'Captain Cook RN' whiskey bottles from which these works are constructed symbolise the introduction of alcohol to the original inhabitants of Australia by British naval officers. The feathers, bones and other detritus attached to the bottles, represent various aspects of the original inhabitants of the land. The brown coloured beer bottles used in these works symbolise the first peoples of Australia. Many of them wear Cook's naval cap: recounting many Aboriginal people's inclination to wear a 'white-fella hat' and thus registering their efforts to emulate the appearance and behaviour of the newcomers to their land. Bungaree was a master of 'white-fella' impersonation. He was commonly seen parading around Sydney wearing the discarded uniforms of military and naval officers he had been gifted by his British admirers. Unfortunately his emulation of European customs lead to a rapid deterioration in his own health, becoming an excessively heavy drinker and progressively infirm due to the effects of alcohol on his body and mind. From first contact until the present day, introduced drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and other illicit substances have had a devastating effect on Australia's Indigenous people." - Karla Dickens.
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