Ship­wreck vic­tims brought to life

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page -

ARTIST Paul Uhlmann has an in­ti­macy with the past af­ter draw­ing ship­wreck vic­tims’ skulls for the ex­hi­bi­tion Batavia 1629 - Giv­ing voices to the voice­less at UWA’S Lawrence Wil­son Gallery.

“It was a big dif­fer­ence to read­ing the story of the Batavia ship­wreck to draw­ing the skulls in-situ at the uni­ver­sity, and it felt like I was in the pres­ence of some of the vic­tims,” Uhlmaan said.

In 1629, the Dutch East In­dia Com­pany mer­chant sail­ing ship Batavia was wrecked on a reef near the Hout­man-abrol­hos group of is­lands near Ger­ald­ton.

The sub­se­quent drown­ing, deaths and then three-month mas­sacre by mu­ti­neers killed a third of the 341 men, women and chil­dren aboard the ship, re­sult­ing in only 68 of those who orig­i­nally left Hol­land to get to In­done­sia.

For the past two years, a col­lab­o­ra­tion of artists and uni­ver­sity and WA Mar­itime Mu­seum sci­en­tists have re­dis­cov­ered and rein­ter­preted that story, in­clud­ing find­ing 14 sets of vic­tims’ re­mains on the is­lands.

In­spired by nat­u­ral process af­ter mas­sacre, artists Alis­tair Pa­ter­son and Daniel Franklin and Uhlmann cre­ated the Ar­chae­ol­ogy of Birds of glass teeth.

Among the works by nine artists, the pub­lic can also ex­pe­ri­ence what may be the story of one of the vic­tims who talks from the past in a video by Co­ri­oli Souter. Paul Bourke’s video im­age shows a vic­tim’s grave and skele­ton, buried in the brit­tle is­land sand, as a stark re­minder of the horrific story.

The Batavia ex­hi­bi­tion, and Be­ing Tiwi that ex­plores life on the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s Tiwi Is­lands, runs at the gallery un­til De­cem­ber 9.

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