In February 2018, I had the privilege and pleasure to view an exhibition at the Australian Residence in the Hague entitled “Reimagining First Encounters”.
An introduction from Ambassador Brett Mason….
Long before my homeland was named “Australia” it was called “New Holland”. For the Dutch were the first Europeans to walk upon and map that vast continent. Mapping what in Europe had been merely a myth, they quite literally drew Australia onto the modern globe.
But the Dutch were not along on Australia’s shores. They encountered her Indigenous peoples and their ancient culture. Aboriginal Australians practised and preserved the world’s oldest living culture; complex traditions of lore, art, religion, kinship and survival maintained since the Dreamtime.
First contact is not a romantic story of peoples’ understanding and cooperation. It was often a tale of hardship, conflict and violence. Drawing on this shared but confronting history, contemporary Aboriginal and Dutch artists have reassessed and reimagined those early encounters.
The artworks on display reflect these new perspectives. The Duyfken Aboriginal Print Portfolio retells the story of the very first contact between Indigenous peoples and Dutch explorers in 1606. Indigenous artist Michael Cook’s photographic portraits confront us by recasting Indigenous Australians in traditionally European roles and forms. Dutch photographer Geert Snoeijer beautifully captures the opposite: Dutch features reflected in the faces of our Indigenous peoples.
First encounters leave lasting legacies. Reimagining First Encounters: Portraits and Prints” teaches us that early conflict can lead to new understandings.”
Ambassador Brett Mason
Ambassador Mason presented these works by Geert Snoeijers, Belinda Fox, Michael Cook and a collection of Aboriginal prints commissioned for the Dutch Royal Family.
For more photos and video, visit my Google Photos album here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/SCbsyyUK5SpbKBi99