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In 1788, nearly fifteen-hundred people on eleven sailing ships came ashore at Port Jackson in Australia after a gruelling eight month journey from England. This collection of vessels later became known as the First Fleet, and those who sailed in them were the community who established the first European colony in Australia.
The Art of the First Fleet depicts the natural history of this extraordinary land, the people and culture of the local indigenous population and the events that marked these initial formative years. The collection, now housed in the Natural History Museum, provides an invaluable record of the wildlife and environment, people and events, as seen through the eyes of the colonists who laid the foundations for the European settlement of Australia. The artists' drawings of the people and culture of the Eora people, the local indigenous population of the area, provide the only lasting visual record of their lives. While images of plants and animals were not always technically accurate, they made a significant contribution to the development of science, allowing experts in Britain to be able to identify and name a large number of new species. They remain an invaluable record of the artists' attempts to make sense and order of this new land.
This book is published to tie in with a new art exhibition opening at the Natural History Museum, London, in spring 2012.