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Shellwork map of Australia

Date: c 2001
Overall: 315 x 360 mm, 84 g
Medium: Wood, pink fabric, black corduroy, shells, glitter, paint
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Sculpture
Object No: 00037416
Place Manufactured:La Perouse

User Terms

    This map designed by La Perouse Elder Lola Deli Ryan and Sydney-based art collector Peter Fay is after the Toscanelli map of 1471 which shows an Australia-like land-mass below Java. The map is made from a pink sequined fabric, a mass of small brown shells, and colourful star fish.
    SignificanceLola Ryan's series of shellwork maps reflect the development of non-Indigenous Australian imaginings of the Australian continent over a 900 year period, as seen in maps drawn between 817 and 1771. They are also an important example of the Indigenous practice of shellwork, and reflect one of the ways in which members of the La Perouse Aboriginal community have generated income since the 1880s.
    HistoryShellwork - the art of creating 3-dimensional shell covered objects - was practiced by many Koori people of New South Wales from as early as the 1880s as a way of earning income by selling souvenirs. Lola Ryan's parents of La Perouse, Sydney, sold their shellwork at the Royal Easter Show and Sydney's markets in the 1920s. Lola first began creating her own shellwork in 1940 at the age of 15. Her mother taught her to make the shellwork shoes and boxes, and her father taught her to make the bridges, boats and kookaburras. She sold her pieces to tourists visiting Sydney, particularly along the southern beaches.

    In 2001 Lola collaborated with Sydney art collector Peter Fay to create five shell maps of early European imaginings of Australia inspired by maps discussed in 'The Mapping of Terra Australia' (1995) by Robert Clancy, and 'Australia in Old Maps 820-1770' (1995) by E B Whitehouse. The works were exhibited at the Gitte Weise Gallery in November 2001 along with a large collection of Lola's more traditional pieces such as Sydney Harbour Bridges, boomerangs and heart-shaped boxes.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Shell map of Australia inspired by the Toscanelli map

    Assigned title: Shellwork map of Australia

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