July 2,2021

Waymburr (Cooktown) 251 Anniversary of Captain Cooks East Coast Voyage

A few years ago I had an idea to drive North looking for basket weavers, so me and my family spent a few weeks driving around Far North Queensland dropping in on Art Centres and having a look around. We ended up at Waymburr  (Cooktown) on Guugu Yimithirr Country which coincided with the anniversary of when Cooks boat the Endeavor was grounded on the reef there, enforcing a 6 week stay in 1770 while the ship was repaired. The winds that held the boat in the harbour were also blowing while we were visiting.

Cooktown Sunset Anne Harris Workshops Expo Natural Dye Plants

It had a strange effect on me, I realised that as my ancestors are all of English and European descent this critical moment in time was a part of my ancestral story of becoming and belonging to this continent we now call Australia.

From this a series of events unfolded, I didn’t find many weavers, lots of other inspiring artwork, and fell in love with the beauty of the plantscape. An invitation to work up at Hopevale with Jenai Hooke on a Bush Dye project, that was an amazing collaboration that is covered in the portfolio post Bush Dye.

Which meant that we visited Hopevale 4 times over a 12 month period.

Specimen Captain Cook Joseph Banks Daniel Solander Anne Harris Unseen Herstory Cooktown  Crocodile Anne Harris Cooktown Inspiration Natural Ink

Following on from this I started working on a project Unseen : Herstory deeply listening to people, plants and the places in between, using the plant specimens that were collected in that 1770 voyage by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. I was to travel the east coast to be insitu in as many of the East Coast locations as I could be during 2020 to watch, listen and respond to the contemporary story of this significant event. My premise was “What would be revealed? And what would be healed? Through this process.

Anne Harris Cooktown Inspiration Endeavour River Creative Life Workshops

Fast forward to June 2021 in a global pandemic Covid-19 world, the plans for 2020 were all cancelled, except for a residence at the Maroochy Botanic Gardens (that has a lot of plants that Banks & Solander collected) Video Link and a great starting point for a new body of work. I was then invited to work at the Cooktown Botanic Gardens in June 2021 as part of the Cooktown & Cape York Expo, Discovery Festival.

Workshop Ink Making Natural Ink Anne Harris Cooktown Botanic Gardens  Anne Harris Natural Ink Plant Spirit Inspiration Cooktown Workshop Expo Botanic Gardens

What an amazing experience, so many artists from so many areas around Far North Queensland gathered for 10 days of music, performance, dance, business and art. I shared a series of workshops “Listening to Plants & Place” that used natural inks from local plants, and some of my sensory landscape mapping techniques, as well as leaf printing. Combine this with the beautiful setting of the Cooktown Botanic Gardens, awesome welcoming and generous locals. My ultimate happy place, creating, sharing and learning, with plants & people, listening and embodying knowledge.

My response to listening and watching up at Waymburr is still permeating, I loved seeing the young ones dancing and singing, also listening to some of the artists tell their stories about country. I was invited to contribute to a conversation with Nash Snider a Kuku Yalanji man from Laura Quinkan Country, during an artist talk on Ancestry and Art, this was a new place for me to be asked into conversation, and I found that my own voice in this was about learning from plants, and being patient slowly building relationships and embodying knowledge from the more than human connections both of country and my own ancestors contained within the introduced plants. During the conversation, I found the role of listening felt like the right place to be in the conversation, it was what I had gone to the Cape to do.

 I have also created a Free Ink Making Ebook that you can download HERE 

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