Land Dialogues, April 2016

In April, two works from my ongoing research that critiques the voyages of Captain Cook were featured in an exhibition at the Land Dialogues conference at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Wiradjuri Country, New South Wales. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the conference and deliver a paper as originally intended. As I was born in Wagga, and grew up not far from there, I had been looking forward to returning and speaking about my research. I hope that another opportunity such as this will arise in the future.

Artist statement
In 1770, Lieutenant James Cook of the Royal Navy sailed HMB Endeavour northwards along the East Coast of the continent now known as Australia. Cook and his crew were on their way home to England, after what would be his first voyage to the Pacific. He had travelled through areas theretofore almost wholly unknown to his people. While charting the coastline of Eastern Australia he supplanted existing place names with names more palatable to English sensibilities. This voyage led to an influx of migration to the region that resulted in the systematic dispossession, exploitation and colonisation of the existing landowners and their nations.

I began work on this photographic and research project in 2012 after hiking to Kealakekua Bay in Hawai‘i, where Captain Cook was killed in 1779. I photographed monuments and locations relating to Cook’s voyages while on the islands of Hawai‘i and Kaua‘i. In 2013 in Aotearoa New Zealand, I photographed monuments to Cook on the South Island. In 2014 I travelled on land along the East Coast of Australia, retracing Cook’s 1770 voyage along this coast and documenting the places photographically. I made use of Cook’s journals and charts to approximate locations and again documented monuments. In 2015 I attended the re-enactment festivals that coincide with the anniversaries of Cook’s landings in Gooragan Country (Town of Seventeen Seventy) and Gan Gaar (Cooktown). I am currently continuing this research as a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. 

Cook landing place, Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Gweagal Country, Eora Nation 2014

“… as we approached the shore they all made off except two Men who seemed resolved to oppose our landing. As soon as I saw this I orderd the boats to lay upon their oars in order to speake to them but this was to little purpose for neither us nor Tupia could understand one word they said. We then threw them some nails beeds etc. a shore which they took up and seem’d not ill pleased in so much that I thout that they beckon’d to us to come ashore; but in this we were mistaken…”

- Lieutenant James Cook R.N. April 29th 1770


Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Gweagal Country, Eora Nation 2014

“Dr Munkhouse and a nother man being in the woods not far from the watering place discovered Six more of the natives who at first seemd to wait his coming but as he was going up to them had a dart thrown at him from out of a tree which narrowly escaped him, as soon as the fellow had thrown the dart he descended the tree and made off…”

- Lieutenant James Cook R.N. May 5th 1770