Art Signifikant

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 12:00 PM

We recently welcomed members of ART SIGNIFIKANT, a select art program curated by James Dorahy of Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney.

By candlelight, to the backdrop of subtle piano music, members viewed a treasure trove of early books, manuscripts, and paintings. The evening was accompanied by two brief talks given by Derek McDonnell and Anne McCormick. Derek spoke of the major voyages of exploration to Australia and the Pacific in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Illuminating this topic, he exhibited original atlases containing wonderful maps, Pacific landscapes and ethnographic art by the professional artists, scientists and botanists involved. The voyages Derek described included those of James Cook, La Perouse, Matthew Flinders and Nicholas Baudin.

Anne then talked of the historical context and timing these voyages encompassed –The Age of Reason or The Enlightenment, and how these specific voyages of exploration were consistent with the intellectual vitality of this period. A time of boundless curiosity and unprecedented quest in Europe for knowledge of the natural world and the human world coincided with European exploration on these early and epic voyages of discovery into the South Seas.

This widespread European interest in our hitherto unknown and exotic world ensured that the books, maps, and paintings produced at this time were remarkable, and continue to be of great historical importance. Members enjoyed seeing major works on Australian botany and shells collected on the voyages of James Cook.