If you’ve ever wanted to take a look back in time to discover the heritage of Australia’s beauty, rich and rare – there’s truly no better depiction than the newest digitalised collection to arrive at the National Library of Australia.
Showcased through the eyes of fabled British Botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who journeyed to Australia with Captain James Cook on his first pacific voyage back in 1766 – Beauty, Rich and Rare is a visual depiction of one of our country’s most historically significant moment – and the result of 250-year-old artworks, letters and journeys combined with the latest in digital storytelling technology.
The experience will transport you, through the use of sound, light and colour, to the incredible journey of the British adventures who, through their illustrations and maps, first introduced Australia’s beauty to eighteenth-century Europe. The National Library of Australia is one of the only places in the country worthy of showcasing such a big – and significant – piece of Australian history.
A little bit about Sir Joseph Banks
Offered a grand tour of Europe at just 25-years-old, Banks, a wealthy and curious naturalist declared, ‘My Grand Tour shall be around the whole globe!’ – and off he went.
In 1768, he gathered together a group of fellow naturalists, artists, assistants and servants, as well as a mass of equipment, two greyhounds and one guitar – and funded them all on a voyage across the Pacific, under the captaincy of Captain James Cook.
Once arriving on Australian shores, he experienced wonders he never dreamt possible – and made it his mission to document them so that the rest of the world would believe what he’d found.
What is Beauty, Rich and Rare?
Beauty, Rich and Rare portrays the journey of the voyagers aboard Cook’s boat, as they made their way across the Pacific, charting the dramatic coastline of New Zealand before sailing on to Terra Australis. For the first time ever, the National Library of Australia’s collections are reimagined in an immersive sound and light digital experience to showcase this expedition in a new, immersive light. Many of the images and artworks shown in the exhibition are original illustrations, maps and various documents from that voyage 250 years ago.
Beauty, Rich and Rare was created to complement the major international exhibition, Cook and the Pacific. Through the power of colour, light and sound, this unique installation will transport you to the boat that held those very adventurers.
From their landing in Botany Bay, throughout their exploration of Australia, Banks and his team documented among many things, Australia’s incredible flora and fauna. The documented findings revealed to the European world a utopia of fascinations that had never before been seen. It was after him, and his discoveries, that the quintessentially Australian Banksia was named.
Lights, camera, action!
The experience, which has been two years in the making, is put together by The National Library of Australia and AGB Events, who are the founders of famed Sydney winter light exhibition; Vivid. Beauty, Rich and Rare, is created with the same wow factor Vivid fans have come to recognise, literally bringing to life the excitement and wonder of Sir Banks and his team of botanists, scientists and illustrators.
The creators of the digital collection have even stayed true to Banks’ original vision by repainting the stunning flora and fauna in light and digital moving imagery using the initial colour charts prescribed by Banks and his illustrator Sydney Parkinson.
It’s not all pretty pictures
In fact, National Library of Australia have also stepped things up a notch, weaving digital tapestry through the exhibition that highlights the scientific achievements of Cook and Banks’ expedition.
This succeeds in creating a sense of awe for viewers, who can finally begin to understand what it was like for British voyagers experiencing Australia’s truly unique people and species for the very first time all those years ago.
Beauty that surrounds you
The Library’s immersive representation of the experience succeeds in drawing you in to the world of the voyagers through the use of five-panel screens, with sound and light surrounding you as digitally remastered works from up to 250 years ago are projected all around.
The hand-painted images from the initial voyage, combined with other digitally drawn images concoct an immersive world of 3D animation; a feat that took hundreds of hours to complete.
The National Library of Australia has commissioned the first showing of Beauty Rich and Rare to be held in Canberra until 10 February 2019, in the Brindabella Room, open from 10am – 5pm daily.
For more information, please visit nla.gov.au