Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu




Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu presents the work of artists who disturb the past, by reframing and reworking the mythologies of nationhood established and led by the scientific botanical work by Joseph Banks’ of the HMS Endeavour.

The voyage of the HMS Endeavour from 1768 – 1771, led by the then little known Lieutenant James Cook with botanist Joseph Banks, collected a staggering quantity of nondescript plant life from across the Asia Pacific – with approximately, 30 000 specimens from Australia and New Zealand alone, representing 3 000 species, of which 1600 were wholly new to science.[1]

The scale of this taxonomy, the science of naming and defining plant and animal life, for these pioneers, was without precedent and in many cases they created unstable, even flawed, systems of vocabulary, hierarchies and methods to describe this ‘new world’.[2]

Many of these instances outlast them to this day, for example, Cook named the the name for “Kangaroo” phonetically after ‘gangurru’, the term used by Aborigines on the North-East coast for local, large, grey marsupials – which was then accepted by Britain.[3] Had Cook realised the plurality of Aboriginal language and that this word was foreign to most tribes in Australia, the outcome would have been very different.[4] Nevertheless, examples like this set the template for generations of legends and myths.

The Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu exhibition artists draw upon these conflicting (and occasionally confounding) myths. By investigating and subverting the colonial prejudices of language and nature, they provide new connections and frameworks for understanding these legacies –  forging a new order from the precarious vestiges and remainders of the so called ‘new world’.

[1] P. J. Hatfield., The Material History of the Endeavour in Chambers, N. (ed.), Endeavouring Banks (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2016).

[2] M. Hetherington and H. Morphy, Footprints in the Sand: Banks’s Maori collection, Cook’s first voyage 1768-71 (Canberra: National Museum of Australia, 2009).

[3]H. Parsons, British-Tahitian collaborative drawing strategies on Cook’s Endeavour voyage in Shino Konishi, Maria Nugent and Tiffany Shellam (ed.), Indigenous Intermediaries: new perspectives on exploration archives (Canberra: Australia National University Press, 2015).

[4] Ibid.



Michael Parekowhai, Robert Hayden, 2004, sparrow, two pot paint and aluminium. Image courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.