Voyagers' tales: Ferdinand Bauer,
Beaver Galleries, Canberra
This exhibition was inspired by the drawings of the Austrian draughtsman, Ferdinand Bauer. Bauer was nominated by Sir Joseph Banks to join HMS Investigator, commanded by Matthew Flinders, in its circumnavigation of Australia in 1802-3. Bauer completed hundreds of drawings of Australian plants and animals. Due to financial constraints, only a small number of these were later transformed into engravings and published. Despite this Bauer's work was renown for its precision and beauty and reveals his intellectual curiosity and appreciation of the subjects he drew.
By quoting and transforming sections of Bauer's drawings in my paintings, I aim to convey how I imagine Bauer felt seeing and drawing Australia's unique plant and animal species. I point a drive to understand and scientifically record the forms of plants and animals by the inclusion of geometric patterning. The pattern's structure is based on the chequered grids used in scientific drawings to refer to the scale of the represented specimen. Composition, size and colour are manipulated in my work to express the sense of wonder for the bizarre beauty of Australian flora and fauna that I believe I share with Bauer. I also allude to the scientific and cultural heritage that informed Bauer's frame of reference by the twisting and re-forming plants into decorative shapes based on European patterns.
These various means I have used to transform Bauer's drawings convey my imaginative re-presentation of past times and experiences. They offer the viewer an opportunity to find resonances in the present.