“Reclaiming the rubbish”: Outcasts, Transformation and the Topos of the Painter-Seer in the work of Patrick White and David Malouf

by Michael Ackland

Settled by white convicts and often by people with few prospects in the Old World, Australia was sometimes thought of negatively as a dumping ground of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. This paper traces how, post-war, this perception was challenged in the fiction of Patrick White and David Malouf, which depicts local versions of the outcast artist in actual rubbish dumps and the creative, regenerative transformations that can occur there.