We were recently invited to participate in the National Museum of Australia’s Cultural Connections Workshops to create artwork and content for the Endeavour Voyage: The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians exhibition, opening June 2020. Senior curator Shona Coyne and IACA arts Facilitor Edwina Circuitt worked with us to develop our concepts. Shona sent us information about the Endeavour hitting the reef off Weary Bay and read out Cook’s journals. We were thinking what would have our ancestors thought about all the things washing up onshore. They knew something strange was coming their way as warning fires were been lit all the way up the coast.
“By early June 1770, the Endeavour was sailing through the treacherous Great Barrier Reef. Despite Cook’s precautions, just before midnight on 11 June 1770 the Endeavour hit a reef and stuck fast.
This was a critical moment in the Endeavour’s voyage. As the ship began filling with water, the work of those on board was at risk. All of Cook’s maps and charts, Banks’s botanical specimens and drawings, the descriptions of new lands and people — faced a watery grave, never to reach England.
The history of Australia would have been very different if the Endeavour had not been freed from the reef.” NMA
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 Art Centre, artist’s statement 2019
For more information about the National Museum of Australia’s Cultural Connections partnership with IACA Art Centre:
Learn more about the National Museum of Australia’s Cultural Connections Iniative: https://www.nma.gov.au/about/cultural-connections-initiative
Bana Yirriji Art Centrre driftwood pieces on display. Courtesy National Museum of Australia
We are really proud that our artworks are included in the exhibition. To learn about the exhibition and to see our work click on this website link: https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/endeavour-voyage/endeavour-reef
Endeavour Voyage: The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Dates: 2 June 2020 to 26 April 2021