My entrée into this work came from a deep interest in these voyages of discovery – adventures based in science and exploring new worlds fraught with danger and high risk. What I found was that artists played an important role in these efforts – their ability to capture images of the discoveries in the days before photography and comprehensive preservation techniques, was so valuable in helping to tell the story. Many of these images were then turned into prints and were reproduced in books. The romantic notion of the artist playing a role of such importance and at the same time being able to create such incredible works of beauty captured my imagination. The fact that so many of them were anonymous or remained unknown in their lifetime also made me feel that these were stories that should be told. Access to books depicting these discoveries and the remarkable images that were created has offered me a treasure trove of source material. But, what I have also come to understand was the darker side of these efforts exploitation and colonization that was the understory for many of these expeditions – an opportunity to locate and confiscate resources that turned into wealth and power for many of these national efforts.
Flora Boreali – Americano, Volume 1, 1840
Captain Cook’s Voyage, HMS Endeavour, 1770
Botanical Report by Durand and Hilgard, 1855
Dutch Voyage to India, 1697
Sloane’s Voyage to Jamaica, 1687-89
Voyage of the HMS Sulfur, 1836-42
Fremont’s Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon and California, 1842-44