Master of Fine Arts

2016 CCP Salon - winner of the michaels Best Work by a CCP Member

Unlearning Cook, Part Three [4.00pm 19 October - 9.30am 1 November 2016]  was recently announced as the winner of the Best Work by a CCP Member at the 2016 Centre for Contemporary Photography's Salon. This work is part of a long-term project and my MFA research. Thank you to the CCP for your support of photographic artists and to Michaels Camera for sponsoring this prize. Thank you to the judges of the Salon this year - Janina Green, Dylan Rainforth and CCP's Michelle Mountain. The exhibition continues until 17 December 2016.

Unlearning Cook, Part Three [4.00pm 19 October - 9.30am 1 November 2016], 2016, 12 unique silver gelatine solar photographs, 80cm x 78cm, 1/1.

'Unlearning Cook, Part One' winner of the 2016 Linden Postcard Show

This new photographic work, created this year as part of my MFA research, was selected as the winner of the 2016 Linden Postcard Show. Thank you to Linden New Art for their support of the arts. Thank you to the anonymous donor who generously funds the first prize and to this year's judges Michael Brennan (LUMA), Emma Buskowsky Cox (Castlemaine Art Museum), Adam Harding (Horsham Regional Art Gallery) and Pat Mackle (Avant Card). Congratulations to all the other winners and to all the exhibiting artists. The exhibition is open until 29 January 2017 at Linden New Art

Unlearning Cook, Part One, 2016, Archival inkjet print, 8in x 10in.
Install documentation image reproduced courtesy of Linden New Art. Photograph: Tom Pender

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


This year and next I am undertaking a research degree at the Victorian College of the Arts, a faculty of the University of Melbourne. I was recently successful in completing a progress review of my research which means that my candidature is now confirmed and I can continue making art and conducting self-directed research with the University's support. My supervisor throughout the Master of Fine Arts degree is artist, Mark Shorter.

The research project I proposed for my MFA forms part of the my ongoing critique of Captain Cook and his three Pacific voyages, a project I began in Hawai‘i in 2012. The practice-led research conducted during the Masters programme will explore the application of decolonising methodologies to artistic practice and the possibilities that emerge as a result. It is my hope that this conceptual framework will provide a means to reinterpret historical events and signifiers of colonisation. The theoretical and practice-led research will result in a photographic outcome and written thesis with major concerns of the project being First Nation sovereignty, colonisation, decolonisation, whiteness and the myth of Terra Nullius.