Please note Mosman Art Gallery is temporarily closed until further notice. A selection of images from Megan Cope’s exhibition are available to view online. Please subscribe to Mosman Art Gallery’s e-newsletter or check back on this page for further updates.

 

Megan Cope (b.1982, Brisbane), a Quandamooka woman and artist who is currently living and working between both Minjerriba and Melbourne. Through diverse mediums Megan Cope’s dynamic art practice investigates the relationship between place and environment, geography, history, contested sites, identities and power.

While we aren’t currently able to show you Megan’s work in situ at the Gallery, please enjoy this online presentation of her print and installation works here. A special thanks to the artist Megan Cope, Milani Gallery and the Australian Print Workshop for their assistance with this.

The Black Napoleon is a recent body of work created by Cope in response to an artist residency in France, undertaken by the artist as part of the Australian Print Workshop (APW) program ‘French Connections’. Cope’s residency in Paris allowed her the opportunity to research and explore important public archives and collections of cultural and other material relating to early exploration of Australia and the Pacific. The research had a particular emphasis on the interplay of natural history, the history of science, colonisation, empire, art and anthropology. The use of the print medium and its relationship to the era of exploration and enlightenment was another important research area, as well as the historical practice of the print as a medium to record journeys of exploration and discovery. This was a colonial process of documenting the ‘other’: of foreign landscapes; other cultures and cultural material; and exotic natural history including plants, fish, insects, birds and animals.

In her series The Black Napoleon, Cope reflects on the story of the Aboriginal leader ‘Eulope’ from Moreton Bay, who led the Quandamooka people in their resistance battles against British forces. Called the ‘Black Napoleon’ by the colony for his apparent resemblance to Napoleon Bonaparte, his story resonated with Megan Cope as one of the many powerful and clever Aboriginal leaders defying the Empire at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries throughout Australia.

 

Megan Cope, Nyanba tahbiyilbanjara nganany (He knew his saltwater country) - French Connections, 2019, lithograph on BFK Rives, 55h x 229.5w cm

Image created for the photolithographic plates and drawn directly on to the lithographic plates by the Artist and processed, proofed and printed in an edition of 10 (plus proofs), in four colours, from three photolithographic plates and nine hand drawn lithographic plates by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham, at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2019.

Megan Cope, Pulan Pulan - French Connections, 2019, lithograph on BFK Rives, 55h x 76.5w cm

Image created for the photolithographic plates and drawn directly on to the lithographic plates by the Artist and processed, proofed and printed in an edition of 10 (plus proofs), in four colours, from one photolithographic plate and three hand drawn lithographic plates by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham, at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2019.

Megan Cope, Quandamooka - French Connections, 2019, lithograph on BFK Rives, 55h x 76.5w cm

Image created for the photolithographic plates and drawn directly on to the lithographic plates by the Artist and processed, proofed and printed in an edition of 10 (plus proofs), in four colours, from one photolithographic plate and three hand drawn lithographic plates by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham, at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2019.

Megan Cope, The Black Napoleon (Eulope) - French Connections, 2019, lithograph on BFK Rives, 91h x 70w cm

Image created for the photolithographic plate and drawn directly on to the lithographic plates by the Artist and processed, proofed and printed in an edition of 20 (plus proofs), in four colours, from one photolithographic plate and three hand drawn lithographic plates by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham, at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2019.

Megan Cope, The Black Napoleon (Kundul Canoe) - French Connections, 2019, lithograph on BFK Rives, 62h x 62w cm

Image created for the photolithographic plate and drawn directly on to the lithographic plates by the Artist and processed, proofed and printed in an edition of 20 (plus proofs), in three colours, from one photolithographic plate and two hand drawn lithographic plates by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham, at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2019. 

Megan Cope, The Black Napoleon (Noogoon/ St Helena) - French Connections, 2019, lithograph on BFK Rives, 62h x 62w cm

Image created for the photolithographic plate and drawn directly on to the lithographic plates by the Artist and processed, proofed and printed in an edition of 20 (plus proofs), in three colours, from one photolithographic plate and two hand drawn lithographic plates by APW Printers Martin King and Chris Ingham, at Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, 2019.

 

For the installation piece RE FORMATION I, Cope has recreated significant shell midden sites from her country, built up over thousands of years of food gathering and processing practices by Quandamooka people. Across the country, many of these middens were desecrated by early colonists to extract lime, thereby erasing evidence of First Nations occupation and land use, desecrated many of these middens. By challenging historical narratives, people’s notions of ownership and connection to the land, the artist highlights alternative historical narratives. In this way, Cope’s artwork aims to re-image and remap history and recreate a shared sense of place and identity.

 

 

Megan Cope, Bereft, 2016, cast concrete, sand, variable dimensions Installation view, Ideas Platform, Artspace, Sydney. Photo: Jessica Maurer

Discover more about RE FORMATION I in this interview with Megan Cope when the work was on display at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Megan Cope’s work has been exhibited extensively across Australia and internationally. Major national survey exhibitions include the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia, The National (2017) at the Art Gallery of NSW, Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial (2017) at the National Gallery of Australia, and Sovereignty (2016) at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Cope has also exhibited at Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art; MONA FOMA, Hobart; Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne; Artspace, Sydney; City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand; Para Site Contemporary Art Space, Hong Kong; Care of Art Space, Milan; and the Australian Embassy in Washington. She is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

This online presentation of Megan Cope’s artworks is part of Mosman Art Gallery’s series of contemporary visual art responses timed to coincide with the 250th Anniversary of Captain James Cook's first voyage to Australia and the Pacific in 1770.

 

Image: Megan Cope, Nyanba Tahbiyilbanjara Nganany (detail), 2019, lithograph, 55 x 229.5 cm. Courtesy of Australian Print Workshop, Milani Gallery and the Artist

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