A life like sculpture of Tasmanian Palawa leader, Trucaninny, by Benjamin Law, made in 1836. The three dimensional, cast plaster bust is slightly smaller than lifesize. Approx 60 cm high, 40 cm wide and 25 cm deep, Trucaninny’s bust depicts her head and torso and ends, cropped at her upper arm. The bust is painted jet black, which has a low sheen and is mounted on a cast plaster stand, or socle, which is also black. The simple squat cylindrical stand has a curvaceous form – rounded collar, narrower stem and wider base.

Her hair is short with tight curls. Her head is tilted slightly downwards. Her solemn face is broad with strong features. She has a short forehead, strong brow and deep-set eyes. Her gaze is intense. Her prominent cheekbones, either side of her broad nose, give her cheeks a rounded appearance in contrast to the deep-set eyes. She has a full mouth, with an emphasis on the cleft running between her nose and upper lip. She holds her mouth closed, and this, together with her fixed gaze, gives Trucaninny a quiet fortitude. Her square chin is asymmetrical, with an indent slightly left-of-centre.

Around her neck, Trucaninny wears a necklace of tiny conical maireener shells laced together. The necklace lies flat against her skin with the narrow ends of the shells pointing outwards. The long strand is wound around her neck twice, resting on her collarbone and lower in the centre of her chest.

Trucaninny’s shoulders are rolled forwards slightly, matching the downward tilt of her head and the direction of her gaze. From her right shoulder, draped low across her chest and under her left arm she wears an animal skin. The skin, irregular in shape, is twisted around itself, gaping to reveal her right breast and nipple. The drapes and folds show both sides of the animal skin – the thick furred texture in contrast with the smooth underside. A triangle of fur hangs long over her right breast and past the end of the bust.

Audio description written by Emily Casey and voiced by Carol Wellman Kelly