Collaborations with Nature

Sailing the Tide and Singing the Land

Shimmering on the horizon and glistening in the sunlight, three tall mast-like forms combine to give expression to the elemental forces of nature with an evocation of Captain Cook’s ship ‘The Endeavour’. Sailing the Tide conjures the spectacle of Cook’s arrival in Botany Bay and the strange spectre of ‘The Endeavour’s’ first appearance for the local aboriginal people.


Floating ‘masts’, the exact height of the foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast of the original ‘Endeavour’, are connected to the tides and perform a twice-daily transformation. Slowly rising they stand tall and upright to announce the fullness of high tide and gradually tilt over again as they follow the receding tide.


While the ‘masts’ of the vertical axis translate and amplify the movement of water, the ‘spars’ of the horizontal axis respond to the wind. A breeze will gently sway them, whilst intermittent gusts will spin them in full rotation. Together, the counterpoised elements offer a metaphor for movement and journey, collaborating with nature’s energies to inspire the imagination.


The floating artwork Sailing the Tide is accompanied by the land-based soundscape Singing the Land. Located high on the ridge, this auditory installation calls, sings and whispers the voices of the land. Conceived by Aboriginal artist and designer Alison Page, a mix of environmental sounds combine with the human voice in language and in song, in traditional and in contemporary voice, to capture the moment before the encounter of Cook and the local aboriginal people.


At the edge of Botany Bay, where land meets water and the past meets the future, Sailing the Tide and Singing the Land resonate with the arrival of Cook’s ‘Endeavour’ in Botany Bay. Together, they ask the viewer to contemplate the multitude of threads woven into the moment when these peoples from two different worlds first came together and consider the impact of that encounter into the future.