Archeology

“Thylacine” A Response To A Preserved Tasmanian Tiger

Slava and Leonard Grigoryan’s Thylacine is a musical response to a whole preserved thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, which is housed in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.

One of the most fragile specimens in the Museum’s collection is a whole preserved body of a thylacine, an extinct carnivorous marsupial commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger.

There is no information about how or where this specimen was collected.

The last well-documented capture of a wild thylacine was in 1930, and this animal was probably collected around that time.

The last known thylacine died on 7 September 1936 at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart.

Thylacines were officially declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1982 and by the state government of Tasmania in 1986.

Since this time, thylacines have become a symbol of the escalating extinctions among Australia’s fauna in modern times.

“Seeing the Thylacine wet specimen was a moving and otherworldly experience. A creature from a different time, suspended in stillness,” says Leonard.

The work begins with sparse chords that represent this sense of stillness.

It then imagines what the thylacine would have been like when alive; a 12-string and a classical guitar come together to create an exotic, otherworldly sound that captures a sense of movement.

The work reflects on the fact that this beautiful creature once existed on the Australian continent but today lives on as something mysterious and foreign.

Slava and Leonard Grigoryan

To mark the 20th anniversary of the National Museum of Australia, Slava and Leonard Grigoryan have selected 18 objects from the museum collection and responded to each with a new composition.

The objects trace the history of Australia over the past 60,000 years.

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