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Black Bastards Are Coming

Reproduced courtesy of Gordon Syron

Black Bastards Are Coming

Date: 2013
Display dimensions: 1020 × 700 × 20 mm
Overall: 1024 × 704 × 20 mm
Medium: Unframed oil on stretched canvas
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Gordon Syron
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00054536
Related Place:Botany Bay

User Terms

    A painting titled 'Black Bastards Are Coming' by Gordon Syron depicting a small boat arriving in Botany Bay, at night, full of black soldiers wearing the Royal Navy military red coats and flying the Aboriginal flag, approaching shore and firing guns at the white people standing in the shallows.

    This work re-imagines European contact from an Indigenous perspective. Gordon Syron has reversed the roles of first contact by depicting black soldiers in military red coats approaching the shore with the Aboriginal flag flying. This encounter is marked by violence, as one man fires his gun at the naked white 'natives'.
    SignificanceThis work by Gordon Syron is significant in providing a contemporary Indigenous perspective of first contact and European occupation within Australia. It formed part of the East Coast Encounter exhibition as part of an ongoing attempt to provide an Indigenous perspective on Australia's history.
    HistoryGordon Syron is a Biripi/Worimi artist born in New South Wales who was involved with the East Coast Encounter initiative.

    In Gordon Syron’s 'The Black Bastards Are Coming' he has created a raw, ironic painting that re-imagines the arrival at Kamay/Botany Bay by shifting expected roles and power relationships. Syron, like Michael Cook, is asking us to look at this historical encounter from another perspective. He uses his art as a way of reclaiming and retelling erased Indigenous histories.

    "This painting highlights the need for Australia to recognise the pre-existing history/rights of Aboriginal land ownership. We must always remember our elders who fought gallantly and bravely in the Aboriginal wars to keep our land. If we don't remember and paint these stories, and teach our children this history, then who will?" - Gordon Syron

    The East Coast Encounter project is a multi-arts initiative involving Australian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists, writers and songwriters to re-imagine the encounter by Lt James Cook and his crew with Aboriginal people in 1770. Cook's voyage along the Australian east coast has become central to national historical narratives. The exhibition re-envisages this seminal journey by imaginatively exploring moments of contact between two world views during these encounters. It also brings these events into the present by incorporating artists' reflections on their relevance today, and their responses to visits to significant contact locations. Topics such as encounter, impact, differing perspectives, nature and culture and views of country are investigated.
    Related People
    Artist: Gordon Syron (1941)

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