Artist Daniel Boyd looks beyond the images

Artist-in-residence Daniel Boyd talks about his work with the First Fleet collection.

Australian artist Daniel Boyd has spent 3 months as artist-in-residence at the Natural History Museum.

He has been researching and creating works in response to images in the First Fleet collection that document the relationship Aboriginal people had with the British in Sydney during the early years of the settlement.

Map by the Port Jackson Painter, 1791-1972

'High water at Port Stephens at 10 o'Clock', Port Jackson Painter, 1791-1792. Artist-in-residence Daniel Boyd finds the map interesting because the colonists view the landscape differently from the Aboriginal people who lived there.

Particularly, as he says, 'the amount of information that can be read from an image and the amount of information that's lost through time. Deliberate or indeliberate.' 

Boyd creates his work as an acknowledgement of this loss. Many of his images have deliberately missing elements that make you think about what you cannot see.

Drawing on his own family history, he talks about how this loss of information 'relates to the processes that governments used at the time, throughout Australian history, disregarding Aboriginal culture and systematically taking their culture away from them. Separating the children and their parents, not allowing them to practice their culture.’ And that, living today, he no longer has traditional cultural practices.  

"There's a strange play with the way that I create the work,' he says. 'This process of making the final image, the loss of information, empowers me because the viewer’s put in a position where they don't have information.'

He adds, 'My work has always been challenging for people but that's what I aim to do with my work.'

The Museum’s international artist research residency programme is being delivered in partnership with Gasworks, a contemporary art organisation in London.