The battle for Sea Country legal rights

Acknowledgement 

The Australian National Maritime Museum acknowledges the Yolngu people as the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of North-East Arnhem Land. We pay our respects to them and their elders both past and present.

The Yirrkala bark paintings are held in the ANMM collection and were purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery.

Cultural Warning

The Museum would like to advise visitors that this content may contain the names and artwork, by deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Members of the Northern Land Council flew into the homeland centre of Yilpara to commence the Blue Mud Bay legal case hearing. Image courtesy Northern Land Council.

Members of the Northern Land Council flew into the homeland centre of Yilpara to commence the Blue Mud Bay legal case hearing. Image courtesy Northern Land Council.

A tireless fight

30 July 2018 marks ten years since the landmark High Court decision that granted sea country legal rights to the Yolŋu people of the Northern Territory. The exhibition Gapu-Monuk Saltwater: Journey to Sea Country centres around 40 Yirrkala bark paintings from the Saltwater Collection, created by the Yolŋu artists who petitioned for sea rights by painting their Saltwater Countries onto bark and revealed sacred patterns or designs, known as Miny’tji, as evidence of their connection to Blue Mud Bay. This legal fight was just one small part of a much richer Indigenous history and relationship to the sea.

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Flagging a mystery in Canton

The French and United States factories at Canton, c1841. ANMM Collection 00015750. Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds.

The French and United States factories at Canton, c1841. ANMM Collection 00015750. Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds.

History in art

When I visit maritime museums, I am always drawn to the ‘China trade’ paintings of Canton (now Guangzhou), the southern Chinese port to which all foreign trade was restricted from 1757 under the Qing dynasty’s Canton System. There is something about their composition that is so intriguing – the merging of Chinese and European artistic traditions, the bustling river crowded with boats, and the detailed architectural rendering of the Western merchants’ hongs (factories) with their national flags proudly displayed out front.

Recently I have been researching one of the museum’s China trade paintings as part of a broader project on the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Cantonese settler Mak Sai Ying in Sydney in 1818. Our oil painting depicts the French and American hongs on the western side of the Thirteen Factories district along the Pearl River. It has been dated about 1841, or the latter stages of the First Opium War (1839–1842) between Britain and China, which would result in the abolition of the Canton System and the opening of five Chinese treaty ports to foreign trade. What I really wanted to know about our painting was: why would the British Red Ensign be flying in front of the Spanish factory?

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Fibre art and fashion

Acknowledgement to Country

The Australian National Maritime Museum acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the bamal (earth) and badu (waters) on which we work. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the land and waters throughout Australia and pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to elders past and present.

The words bamal and badu are spoken in the Sydney region’s Eora language. Supplied courtesy of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Cultural Warning

The Museum would like to advise visitors that this content may contain the names and artwork, by deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2018, explore some of Australia’s most renowned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female artists, leading practitioners in their fields of weaving and shell stringing. ANMM Collection <a href="http://collections.anmm.gov.au/en/objects/details/194327/woven-skirt-from-galiwinku-elcho-island?ctx=d12c6e42-85eb-4b31-a5bd-868c52b51de0&idx=0">00054382</a>. Image: © Rosemary Gamajun Mamuniny/Copyright Agency, 2018.

In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2018, explore some of Australia’s most renowned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female artists, leading practitioners in their fields of weaving and shell stringing. Detail of ANMM Collection 00054382. Image: © Rosemary Gamajun Mamuniny/Copyright Agency, 2018.

Because of her, we can!

This year’s NAIDOC week theme is ‘Because of her, we can!’, which celebrates the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation. For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried our dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge that have kept our culture strong and enriched us as the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

A new exhibition, Unbroken Lines of Resilience: feathers, fibre, shells, brings together some of Australia’s most renowned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female artists, leading practitioners in their fields of weaving and shell stringing. Their innovative works highlight the unbroken practices of our First Nations women and their deep cultural connections and knowledge systems. These practices include harvesting and processing organic and contemporary fibres, feathers and shells to create intricate bodywear for adornment.

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A gesture of kindness, Lord Nelson and the crew of the HMS Cordelia

A donation to the Vaughan Evans Library yielded a mysterious tale from history. Image: Kate Pentecost/ANMM.

A recent donation to the Vaughan Evans Library yielded a mysterious tale from history. Image: Kate Pentecost/ANMM.

A story hidden within a book

Sometimes it is the little things in life that can be the most interesting. A story that recently came across our path at the Vaughan Evans Library reflects this: It is a tale that took place in 1891 and involves Lord Viscount Nelson, a kind lady from Darlinghurst and thirteen wounded crew members from the HMS Cordelia… Continue reading

Sailing over the horizon

Matt Hayes, an Australian Olympic sailing champion, has departed on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure of the World ARC in his trusty <em>Influencer</em>. Image: Gail De Raadt/ANMM.

Matt Hayes, an Australian Olympic sailing champion, has departed on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure of the World ARC in his trusty Influencer. Image: Gail De Raadt/ANMM.

A racing adventure

The World ARC is a bucket list item for many yachting enthusiasts. The sailing rally is a round-the-world adventure, covering 26,000 nautical miles over 15 months. Following the classic trade winds, this circumnavigation event attracts over 200 boats and 1200 participants every year. Not only is it about circling the globe, but also the friendships formed between sailors from around the world.

Matt Hayes, an Australian Olympic sailing champion, is about to depart on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and gave us a behind the scenes look at what it took to prepare for such an adventure on the high seas.

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