Poeppel's Peg (or corner post) 1988 signed, dated and inscribed 'Narelle Jubelin 1988 / "Poeppels Peg (or Corner post)' verso petit point embroidery, in carved wood frame 47.0 x 36.0cm (18 1/2 x 14 3/16in).
PROVENANCE Mori Gallery, Sydney The Reg Grundy AC OBE and Joy Chambers-Grundy Collection, acquired in 1988
EXHIBITED Narelle Jubelin: Second glance (at 'The coming man'), touring exhibition, Mori Gallery, Sydney, December 1988; Centre for the Arts, Hobart, March 1989; George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, April 1989 cat. no. 7
LITERATURE Fay Brauer, 'Narelle Jubelin: Second glance (at 'The coming man')', Eyeline 8, March 1989, p. 32 (illus.)
Narelle Jubelin's Poeppel's peg (or corner post) forms part of the installation Second glance (at 'The coming man') 1988, and the petit-point rendition at the centre of the piece is based on two photographs taken by Edmund Colson (1881-1950) during his 1936 expedition on camel across the (not yet so-named 1) Simpson Desert.
'Poeppel's peg' is the coolabah log placed at Poeppels Corner - the border intersection of South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory - in 1880 by South Australian Surveyor-General Augustus Poeppel (1839-1891). The post had to be repositioned four years later because the original measuring instrument was inaccurate2.
Jubelin's imaginative colour rendering of the image, with Colson's camera case placed on top of the peg, heightens a sense of imposition upon the landscape as the shadows of the photographer and the phallic peg itself draw attention to a proclamation, a marking of territory, a land claim. Colson is now known as the first non-indigenous person to have crossed the Simpson Desert - in the company of an Antakirinja man, Eringa Peter. 3
Jubelin pays attention to the details of history, knowing they will be forgotten, but encoding them within her visual language, woven into the fabric of her works so that they might be rediscovered in the future, as threads are unravelled. The arresting needlecraft, settling on such atypical subject matter, accentuates its statement in a subtle play between the disarming skill of a traditionally devalued art form and the overlooked qualities of a discarded frame rediscovered.
In this case, the asymmetrical design of the dark border presents itself as a shield, registering battles barely acknowledged. On the right, a spear-tipped detail is embedded in the benign shell or fan patterning that ornaments the frame, and at the bottom, a curious mask-like shape appears to gaze at the observer, returning the look of the photographer, shadowed in the central image.
Jubelin was one of the original founding members of the remarkably resilient First Draft artist-run space in Sydney, and implicit in her work is an acknowledgement of the labour of craft. The intricate design of her work and its highly accomplished level of thought and execution underline her respect for the precision of craft, both artisanal and industrial, of tool and pattern-making as means of creative expression - between the handmade and the ready-made.
1 It was not until the 1939 Madigan expedition that it came to be called the Simpson Desert after washing machine company head and prominent Adelaide entrepreneur, Alfred Allen Simpson, (18751939) industrialist, philanthropist, geographer, and president of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia who had also been a sponsor of Mawson's Antarctic research. 2 The original peg is now in the Migration Museum, Adelaide 3 For a brief account of earlier Aboriginal occupation of the Simpson Desert, see Deborah Rose, 'Social Life and Spiritual Beliefs of the Simpson Desert Peoples', in Val Donovan and Colleen Wall [ed.], Making Connections: A Journey along Central Australian Aboriginal trading routes, Arts Queensland, 2004, pp. 43-46