On Display: QAG, Gallery 12
In Untitled (HNDFWMIAFN) 2017 Boyd recreates a scene from Hambledon plantation, a sugar farm near Cairns in the late nineteenth century. In 1888, the plantation had 900 acres of sugar cane and employed 32 white, 29 Chinese, and 6 Javanese workers, as well as 176 South Sea Islanders who were forcibly brought to Australia as indentured labour.
For their efforts the Chinese and Javanese were paid £1/5 per week, white workers received up to £4 per week, and the Islanders £6/5 per year. After the White Australia Policy came into effect in 1901, a program of mandatory — and often arbitrary — repatriation took place, and South Sea Islanders were deported to their country of origin.
The story of Hambledon plantation is one of our state’s most important historical stories. Some 62 000 South Sea Islanders were brought to Queensland, initially as slaves, then as low-paid contract workers in the agricultural industries, particularly on cotton, banana and sugar farms. After the repatriation program, only 10 000 Islanders remained in Australia.
Today the area of the plantation is the Cairns suburb of Edmonton. On the original site sits an amusement park named ‘Sugarworld’.
Daniel Boyd is an artist of both Aboriginal and South Sea Islander heritage whose works often deal with the complex history and legacy of South Sea Islander labour in Queensland.
Born in 1982 in Cairns, where he spent his early years, Boyd’s childhood passion was to make copies of drawings by the grand masters. His reproductions caught the attention of teachers and family members who encouraged him to apply for art school. At 19, Boyd relocated to Canberra where he undertook a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University’s School of Art.
Around 2010, Boyd’s painting style shifted when he began adding fields of clear dots over reproductions of original source imagery. These works, which deal with histories as abstracted, fragmented pieces of subjective lenses to our past, have garnered Boyd significant national and international attention.
His works dealing with South Sea Islander narratives are his most acclaimed. He won the BVLGARI Art Award in 2014, and his work was included in the 56th Venice Biennale, ‘All the World’s Futures’, in 2015.