Strangers on the Shore
'Strangers on the Shore' is a group exhibition presented at Holmes a Court Gallery
as part of Perth Festival 12 February-12 March 2022.
This work explores ideas about the colonial shipping trade in WA and examines its part in the exploitation of natural resources. Whales, seals, oysters, pearls and guano, were quickly exploited for trade, by American and European ships, and as settlement increased, these resources included Sandalwood and Jarrah.
The artwork is an Installation, centred around the recreation of a shipwrecked schooner (15 m long). It includes paintings, prints, text (historical, and from the WAM database), museum objects (figurehead and other objects from the Maritime Museum) and found objects (from the vessel ‘Tenacity’, currently stored at the Department of Transport’s ‘abandoned boatyard’ at Woodman Point and ‘Chinoiserie’ (Chinese art and objects).
I want to explore the part played by my great-great grandfather, Captain John Maxwell Ferguson who, as a Fremantle merchant, exported sandalwood to Singapore on his 35 m long schooner, Airlie. In 1899, on its way home, with a cargo of coal, the Airlie caught fire at sea, and was wrecked at the Ashburton River. The fire burnt the vessel to the water line. Utilsing the largespace of the venue I hope to recreate this burnt vessel at half scale.
For some parts of this particular installation I will work in collaboration with Chinese/Australian artist Cherish Marrington. Cherish works as an artist, printer, set designer and stylist. Her work often plays with ideas of 'Chinoiserie'- or Asian objects created for trade. She look at the condition of Chinese sailors employed in the pearling trade and their escape into opium.
Collaboration with artist Cherish Marrington, with the Maritime Museum WA and the Department of Transport, Maritime, Fremantle.
1. Wreck of the Airlie (1899), oil on canvas 150 x 150 cm - $6,600
2. Wreck of the Agnes (1892), oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm - $6,6003.
3. Video Agnes by David Cherrin and Jo Darbyshire 2022
4. Installation- Waterline; burnt Jarrah wood, Chinese shawl c.1890, ‘Tenacity‘ rudder, found object, abandoned boatshed Woodman’s Point.
5. Agnes Figurehead and Australian Fur Seal, WA Museum
Corioli Souter, A/Head Maritime Heritage, Jessica Green, Maritime Heritage and Kenny Travouillon, Curator of Mammalogy, Western Australian Museum,
Chloe Guy, Project Support Officer, Maritime, Department of Transport (WA)
Nigel Darbyshire, Shaun Souter
Art Collective WA
The State of Western Australia through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries- Department of Culture and the Arts