Australian War Artist: Megan Cope

Megan Cope

30 - 31 Jul 2019

In 2017 the Australian War Memorial commissioned its first female Aboriginal official war artist, Quandamooka woman Megan Cope, to travel to the Middle East to accompany various Defence units participating in Operation Accordion. She was initially sent to the United Arab Emirates, before being attached to Australian Defence Force units in the Middle East. There she recorded and interpreted subjects concerning Australia’s contribution to the international effort in the Middle East Region.

Cope’s series of works titled ‘Flight or fight’ was primarily inspired by a ten-hour flight she took over the Middle East.

It was important for Cope that her works held a visual connection to the types of maps she had in her school as a child. She said, “Kids today probably won’t ever know what those maps look like, but I really wanted my maps to have that weight, and to reflect that time of how we learn about the world … I’ve been so challenged by those sorts of maps and that knowledge that was prescribed onto them”. Thus, it was important for Cope to present her maps in a similar fashion and she did so by incorporating some of her Country. This particular work is mounted to North Stradbroke Island blue gum.

Cope is part social cartographer, curator, writer and artist. Her site specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings lingers within the dualistic spaces of split heritage and contested land, investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and conflicted personal encounters. Her work explores the myths and methods of colonisation and circumvents hegemonic sovereignty.