Bana Yirriji Art Centre artists were invited to participate in the National Museum of Australia’s Cultural Connections workshops. We worked closely with the museum’s curator Shona Coyne and facilitator Edwina Circuitt. We went through Cook and Bank’s journal entries about the Endeavour ship hitting the reef off Weary Bay and thought about what our ancestors would have thought about seeing the items that had been thrown overboard that washed ashore. We decided to paint our stories on rainforest driftwood collected on the beach at Weary Bay.
Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, smashed on the reef off Weary Bay. That ship was very badly damaged. They were sinking quickly. Cook and his crew had to throw their barrels of grog, food, guns, cannons and clothes overboard. Some things would have sunk to the bottom of the reef, but some things would have washed up on the Weary Bay shore.
We collected pieces of driftwood found on the Weary Bay beach. Most of it comes from the rainforest trees but perhaps some of the pieces come from the Endeavour ship’s wooden hull [Laughter]? We are painting our Bama stories on the bits of driftwood. We want Australians and the rest of the world to hear the other side of the Captain Cook story. Bana Yirriji Artist Group Statement, 2019
For more information https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/endeavour-voyage/endeavour-reef
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Driftwood Artworks photographed by George Seras Courtesy National Museum of Australia