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Reproduced courtesy of Euan MacLeod

Possession Island

Date: 2013
Display dimensions: 1200 × 840 × 45 mm
Medium: Oil on canvas, unframed
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Euan MacLeod
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00054566
Related Place:Possession Island,

User Terms

    A painting titled 'Possession Island' by Euan Macleod.
    This is one of six panels depicting different scenes of Australian landscape with people descending from boats.This panel features two men arriving at the beach of Bedanug/Possession Island with a mountain in the background. They are seen from the back and they both carry boxes and bags, treading througfh the shallows towards the shore.

    This series of panels represent Bedanug/Posession Island from different view points, both physically and emotionally.
    On Bedanug/Posession Island on 22 August 1770, Captain James Cook ‘hoisted the English colours’ and "took possession of the whole eastern coast" of Australia on behalf King George the Third.

    This panel forms one of the inner pieces of the full work Possesion island, the in between panel shows a series of downcast figures who travel to and traverse this site, laden with literal and metaphorical baggage.
    SignificanceThis painting by Euan Mcleod gives a contemporary perspective on first contact and the impact of European colonisation. The painting, as part of East Coast Encounters, is a voice in a shared story, re-imagined by Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, to encourage cultural dialogue and promote reconciliatory understanding.
    HistoryThe Kaurareg people are the traditional owners of Beganug. The island is located in the Torres Strait Islands group off the north coast Queensland and became known as Possesion Island after the landing of Captain Cook on 22 August 1770.

    Euan Macleod’s painting is a response to a trip to Bedanug/Possession Island – the site where Cook ‘took possession’ of the east coast of Australia on behalf of the British monarchy. The island is presented from different perspectives in time and space, with scenes and forms that do not fit neatly together so that we try to find resolution from the multiple points of view. Downcast figures travel to the island laden with literal and metaphorical baggage. Their ‘possession’ of the land is implied by the Union Jack painting which is subtly mirrored by diagonal lines radiating out from the work’s centre. Macleod interweaves his own experience as an immigrant from New Zealand with reflections on Cook’s voyage to consider how we bring with us our own baggage, and the difficulties of adjusting to a different environment. Macleod shows us that this is a story that needs to be understood from multiple perspectives.

    This work by Euan Macleod was produced for East Coast Encounter, a multi-arts initiative involving Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, writers and songwriters to re-imagine the encounter by Lieutenant James Cook and his crew with Indigenous people in 1770.

    Cook's voyage along the Australian east coast has become central to national historical narratives. The East Coast Encounter project asked artists to re-envisage this seminal journey by imaginatively exploring moments of contact between two world views during these encounters. It also brought 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.

    Additional Titles

    Collection title: East Coast Encounters collection

    Primary title: Possession Island

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