Undiscovered #9 Michael Cook © 2010 ANMM Collection

Undiscovered: Photographic Works by Michael Cook

Undiscovered provides a contemporary Indigenous perspective of European settlement in Australia


The Australian National Maritime Museum acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the Traditional Custodians of the bamal (earth) and badu (waters) on which we work.


We also acknowledge all Traditional Custodians of the land and waters throughout Australia and pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to Elders past and present.



Michael Cook - A Selection of Works from the Undiscovered Series

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 has 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.

“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

“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

About the artist

Portrait of artist Michael Cook

Michael Cook is from the Bidjara people of south-west Queensland. He has a wealth of photographic knowledge and experience that has gained him national and international recognition.

He originally worked as a fashion photographer and has applied these skills to the visual arts with Undiscovered, which comprises a suite of 10 photographs that have been acquired by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

See the Undiscovered series

Buy the book

Order the East Coast Encounter catalogue from our online store which features some of Michael Cook's works and those of other artists.

Buy the book

View a selection of Michael Cook's Undiscovered works:

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