Acknowledgement of Country
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.
“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’”
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.”
About the artist
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.
View a selection of Michael Cook's Undiscovered works: