First Map: How James Cook Chartered Aotearoa New Zealand
It was a great privilege to be asked to work on Tessa Duder’s First Map, How James Cook Charted Aotearoa New Zealand.
Tessa has done a wonderful job of recounting the events, misfortunes and accomplishments of Cook’s voyage in the Endeavour between August 1768 and July 1771 and the creation of his magnificent record of our coastline.
The original chart, Folio 16, is housed in the British Library. It is a fantastic artifact, one of those objects that has become a history of itself; creased, stained and stuck together with tape along its folds.
As soon as I saw it, I knew we had to sink it into the graphic feel of the book and sail around its inky coasts as we followed the Endeavour’s progress and Tessa’s narrative.
It was my job to create fresh images to add to the ones we are so familiar with from this voyage but I found myself returning again and again to those drawings by Parkinson and Sporing. They are, especially in their rough initial states before engraving, the authentic record and I stared into them trying to visualise the real scenes they attempted to depict.
Several of my drawings reimagine details from those works. Others refer directly to particularly iconic images such as Nathaniel Dance’s portrait of Cook or Tupaia’s astonishing depiction of Maori trading Crayfish.
I have also used still lifes, landscapes and natural history drawings to trigger the reader’s own imaginings. My intention was that the stained pencil drawings would be sympathetic to the chart itself and encourage us all to take our own voyages into the past.
Many people helped with research for this book. I would like to thank John Duder in particular for his expert knowledge and advice on tall ship rigging.
A delightful feature of this handsome production is the French fold cover with Folio16 printed on the inside - watch here