Bungaree: The First Australian

Bungaree: The First Australian


Artist Statement

I have become warmly obsessed with the man Bungaree and his playful interaction with his new Commonwealth establishment.
Bungaree was a man of intelligence and wit, he was flamboyant, content to play the fool as it paid off handsomely at times.
He was a solid hinge swinging between both the black and white camps, a dynamic not often held by many in his day.

Reflecting on Broken Bay in the early 1800’s I was hit hard by the darkness of these times. My works for this exhibition
hold a dark nature created by the use of black netting and somber colouring. The netting and dark tones read as an ever
present shadow lingering over Australia’s history (both visually and metaphorically), setting the atmosphere and essence
of a True Black Georgian time under blue skies.

The first work I produced was ‘The King and The Pirates’, with the central focus being the skull of Bangaree dominating the
traditional skull and cross bones, known to symbolise Pirates. The ships names that King Bangaree journeyed on are written
into the bones, telling the tale of him joining forces with the Pirates who worn the red coats. Over the King’s head is a ‘bump’
the time’s currency he was known to ask for (or beg for) that i like to see as the Man’s halo.

The second work produced is ‘initiated’ with the portrait of The Man painted on a black dollie sitting on top of his chest plate,
embraced by the words “No Man’s Master, No Man’s King”. Playing with the parody of “Bangaree the King of the Sydney Blacks”,
I chose to play with the absurd nature and dark humour of the life and title of this King. Aware of a real collision of souls,
swimming, and at moments sinking deep into a complete unknowingness of “difference” and “otherness”.

“A Commonwealth Banquet” was the third of the works I produced for this exhibition. Bangaree, Flinders, Trim the Cat and a black swam
(plentiful in the waters of Sydney at the time) sit together decorated with bows and flowers. As they sit I envision a satire matinee
ready to begin, with ‘Trim’ a known celebrity holding just as much presence as The Captain and The King. The Swam will be the days banquet,
often being fed to Trim by Bangaree as waters were sailed and buttons and buckles polished.

I have been enriched by my reflections of Bangaree, The Man, The Mimic, The Beggar, The Drunk, The Brave and Witty Middle Man, with
too many wives, and buckets of flare, a truly worthy The King.

Tour Details
Mosman Regional Gallery 27 Aug-Dec

Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery- 8 Feb.-24 Mar. 2013
The Glasshouse, Port Macquarie- 25 May-30 June 2013
Logan Art Gallery- 8 July-10 Aug. 2013
Rockhampton Art Gallery- 4 Oct.-24 Nov. 2014
Charles Darwin University- 7 Feb.-30 Mar. 2014
Bunbury Regional Art Gallery- 11 Apr.-8 June 2014
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery 21 June-27 July 2014
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery- 3 Aug.-14 Sep. 2014
Flinders University Art Museum & Gallery 12 Dec 2014-8 Feb.2015
National Museum of Australia TBC
Wollongong City Gallery 5 June- 22 Aug. 2015

Event Details

  • Location: Mosman Art Gallery
  • Starts: 27th August 2012
  • Finishes: touring the country until 2015
  • Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm 7 days