From the time of arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 until the end of the nineteenth century at least, lime was produced in a number of ways, including by the simple heap-burning or pit-burning processes. Until the 1920’s, when local supplies of limestone began to be utilised, most of the lime was produced from sea shells. This practice continued late into the century in some districts. The early dependence on shell, which is a scattered and limited resource and occurring as Aboriginal shell middens, necessitated either transport of shell to a central kiln, or the use of simple and cheap burning methods at the location of the shell deposits.
– Australian Historical Archaeology 8, 1990. Pearson.
In archaeological terms, a midden is a mound or deposit containing shells, animal bones, and other refuse that indicates the site of a human settlement. The removal of Aboriginal architectural forms such as middens, as well as the continued mining and excavation of other sacred sites, renders a landscape void of markers once used to navigate through country — to find our way home. What's left is a framework that upholds an invasive colonial narrative while obscuring, submerging and erasing Aboriginal presence on the land.
Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman from North Stradbroke Island, Queensland. Her work explores the intricate relationship between environment, geography and identity. Maps feature prominently in Cope’s work; she draws on toponymy (the study of place names) to probe myths and methodologies around colonisation.
Cope’s work has been exhibited in Australia and internationally including at Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art; Gold Coast City Art Gallery; MONA FOMA, Hobart; ARC Biennial, Brisbane; Cairns Regional Art Gallery; Koori Heritage Trust, Melbourne; City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand; Para Site Contemporary Art Space, Hong Kong; Careof Art Space, Milan; the Australian Embassy, Washington and Next Wave Festival, 2014. In 2015 Cope’s work was curated into an exhibition at Musées de la Civilisation in Québec, Canada, which has also acquired her work for their permanent collection. She undertook a 'Time_Space_Place': Nomad Residency 2014 awarded through Performance Space, Sydney.
Cope was commissioned to create major site-specific work for the exhibition My Country, I still call Australia Home at Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, 2013; as well as for the Melbourne Museum and the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, 2015.
Cope is a member of Aboriginal art collective proppaNOW.
Megan Cope is represented by THIS IS NO FANTASY, Melbourne.