Michael Cook National Maritime Museum Sydney


Michael Cook's work is featured in Undiscovered, an exhibition to mark NAIDOC week 2015. The show provides a contemporary Indigenous perspective of European settlement in Australia, a land already populated by its original people. Cook's artworks shift roles and perspectives around the notion of European ‘discovery’ of Australia, reflecting upon our habitual ways of thinking and seeing our history.

This series questions who really discovered Australia while making reference to what was always here, what has been introduced and the effect this had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their culture and country.

The scene is set on the shoreline looking out to sea, the site that bought the first ships to Australia. The photos depict an Aboriginal man role-switching with his colonisers, at times he is  dressed in full colonial style clothing,  other times the colonial clothing is removed revealing the strength and resilience of Indigenous Australians before and after colonisation.

Throughout the series the man is joined by some of our Australian native animals as well as modern introduced objects. In some photos a sailing ship appears on the horizon a strong reminder of European colonisation.

'Michael Cook’s elegiac visual poems use a rich palette of moody greys to shape contemporary attitudes.... a genuine, and persuasive, voice.' (Michael Desmond from Wistful Humour: Michael Cook’s Antipodean Garden Of Eden)

'Cook asks us to consider how Australian history might have been different if early explorers and settlers had ‘seen through the eyes of the Aboriginal people’ (Dr. Lisa Chandler, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland from Points of View: Michael Cook’s Re-Imagined Histories)