Shadowing Venus: Pacific Adventures of Joseph Banks
7 July - 11 November 2012
Main Exhibition Gallery, Puke Ariki
Beautiful botanical artworks, colourful characters and brilliant examples of 18th Century science come together in Puke Ariki’s latest exhibition inspired by the Banks’ Florilegium.
Surrounding 46 framed prints and actual centuries old plant specimens collected by botanists on the HMS Endeavour’s maiden voyage come tales of political intrigue, espionage, religion, huge wealth, adventures on the high seas, sex and violence.
Aboard the Endeavour with Captain James Cook were a boatful of personalities – wealthy socialite Joseph Banks, who was passionate about botany; the great scientist Daniel Solander, a man once trained as an industrial spy; artist Sydney Parkinson, from whose work the original plates of the Banks’ Florilegium were made; and Tupaia, Tahitian navigator, diplomat and translator. Brilliant Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, who devised the system for naming plants still used today, also features.
The story of the Florilegium
begins as Banks and his crew join Cook on a journey to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus in Tahiti, after which they continued on to Aotearoa. During their forays ashore they collected and later classified hundreds of New Zealand’s native plants. Artist Sydney Parkinson’s illustrations of plants were later etched into copperplates. It was, however, not until some 200 years later that the first prints were made from these plates.
The Banks’ Florilegium was finally published in the 1980s and Puke Ariki was gifted the 46 prints that feature in the exhibition by Bryce and Delwyn Barnett, through the Puke Ariki Development Charitable Trust, in late 2011.
Shadowing Venus: Pacific Adventures of Joseph Banks also looks at the naming of plants, intellectual property rights and colonisation and the links between science and the environment.