Independent Crown of Australia Network
The Charter of the
Independent Crown of Australia Network

a community network dedicated to Australian independence through the
patriation and modernisation of the Australian Crown>
Our Emblem: the golden wattle and ochre lozenge

The ICAN emblem, illuminating every page of our website, illustrates a golden wattle blossom against the background of an ochre-coloured lozenge. Not only is the emblem visually engaging, but it also conveys the essential ideas expressed in Our Charter.

The lozenge, or diamond-shaped element, is a European heraldic device. It has been used in European heraldry since at least the 13th century either as the shape of a shield for a woman, or as a 'charge', or design element, upon the shield of a man. It is the first use that makes it suitable for the ICAN emblem. In a general sense there is a concept in Aboriginal Australia of the land as maternal through the creation of the founding ancestors during the Dreaming. More particularly, there is a feminine principle expressed throughout the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, with its constant reference to 'the Queen', to 'Her Majesty', and use of the pronouns 'her' and 'she'. This makes our constitution rare amongst the national constitutions of the world, which are generally imbued with a male principle. Further, the sovereigns that have been responsible for Australia since 1788 have been mostly female rather than male. Seven Kings and one Regent have reigned for 100 years, but two Queens have reigned for 120 years so far (2008). The sprays of wattle that surround and support the Commonwealth Arms are tied with a 'true lovers knot', which is also used in traditional heraldic depictions of a woman's lozenge-shaped shield to surmount, or sit on top of, the shield. These feminine allusions in Australia's history make the use of a lozenge shape appropriate and relevant.

The ochre colour of the lozenge visually ties the European lozenge-shape directly to ancient Australian ceremonial practices. The use of ochre to paint, mark or colour ritually and artistically important objects is at least 30 000 years old. While ochre is a variable colour, it is often depicted as a reddish-orange-brown colour, as used in our emblem, reminiscent of the great red deserts of the continental heartland. Ochre has been found in indigenous art and ceremony in all states and territories up to the present, and its use as the background colour in our emblem represents the underlying unity of the Australian peoples across place and time.

The wattle blossom has a 20th century history of association with Australian sovereignty. Sprays of wattle blossom visually support the Coat of Arms granted to the Commonwealth of Australia by King George V in 1912, and this can still be seen in the Arms as used today. In 1913 the first Australian postage stamps were issued, replacing the earlier state or colonial stamps. One series featured a kangaroo on a map of white Australia; while the other series featured a portrait of King George V framed in wattle blossom. Earlier colonial stamps had occasionally shown native flora, especially ferns, but none had depicted the wattle blossom. This was exclusively a post-federation, all-Australian symbol. Wattle blossom has continued to be used to frame portraits of the sovereign on Australian stamps to the present day. The Australian vice-regal emblem of a crown with a sprig of wattle blossom in an oval-shaped frame can be seen on the Governor-General's website. Wattle blossom was extensively used as a symbol of Australian royalty during the Queen's tour in 1954, and the principal gift given tothe Queen by the Australian people was a diamond brooch in the shape of a sprig of wattle blossom. This extensive association between Australian sovereignty and the wattle blossom developed after federation, and is an appropriate expression of the ideas in Our Charter.

The golden colour of the wattle blossom reflects the colours in a most significant Australian portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, painted by Sir William Dargie in 1954 and today hung in Parliament House, Canberra, which shows the Queen in a gown the colour of wattle blossom, with a sprig of wattle blossom on her shoulder, to indicate her role as Australian sovereign. Although wattle blossom naturally comes in many colour shades from pale cream through to bright orange, the colour used in our emblem reflects that of Australia's national floral emblem, the Golden or Cootamundra Wattle. The single colour and floral motif in a circular shape also reflects the influence of Japanese heraldry and its use of stylised floral emblems, usually called Mon, since the 12th century. This allows our emblem to also reflect heraldic practises of the Asia Pacific.

The combination of a circular golden wattle blossom set on an ochre-coloured lozenge reflects the ideals set out in Our Charter: the diversity of the Australian people and their origins, the migration experience, strategic dynasticism, the hybridism of tradition and the contempory, and opportunities for new beginnings through the independence of the Australian crown.





references:

John Mulvaney & Johan Kamminga, Prehistory of Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney 1999.

Helen Irving (Ed), The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne 1999.

AC Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry, 1909 New York, facsimile Bonanza Books, New York 1978.

Robin Usher, 'Royal blue still an art legend's favourite hue', The Age, 28 February 2002.