THE 2007 BARK CANOE PROJECT
Some 10,000 years ago the land mass now known as Tasmania separated from the Australian mainland. Tasmania’s (Trowenna) many offshore islands provided a rich, seasonal food source for the Aboriginal people of Tasmania, who travelled there in canoes made from stringy bark, paper bark and reeds. Over 200 years ago European explorers documented these craft in both words and drawings, thus providing valuable cultural records for the future. The 2007 Bark Canoe Project undertaken by members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery sought to renew this traditional cultural practice of canoe-making previously thought lost.
The Bark Canoe Team built a fourteen-foot canoe on site at TMAG and as a TMAG employee of I was privileged to gain access to the construction site. I witnessed the awe-inspiring and impressive beginnings of the canoe and followed the fascinating process to its successful completion. I was moved by the power of the canoe’s presence – its size, form, structure, texture and incredible technical, historical and cultural significance.