This series of paintings of Captain Cook’s circumnavigation of Aotearoa New Zealand, was produced for an Exhibition to coincide with Te Tuia – Encounters 250, which marked 250 years since the first onshore encounter between Maori and Pakeha in 1769-70. The paintings were a celebration of the navigational skills and seamanship of James Cook and his crew, and the challenges that faced a small wooden ship, a converted Whitby Collier, to travel half way around the world, from England to the South Pacific, and back again.
H.M. Bark Endeavour was considered a ‘bark’, meaning a ‘cat’ or bluff–bowed boat of shallow draught with incomplete rigging in the mizzen. She was a vessel of 368 tons, and her overall length was 105 feet. The full crew on board the H.M. Bark Endeavour was 95 people.
The paintings of the Endeavour series were all oil paintings on stretched canvas and framed with a double white boxed frame with a gold fillet insert. Like all marine artists, I have a large reference library of images of the replica of the Endeavour, as well as photos of ships models and admiralty ships drawings, which are all used to best capture the image of the ship.
Then it was a matter of putting it all together with the right wind, sea and lighting conditions, to try to capture the feel of a small ship and its crew, at the mercy of the sea and the weather. The paintings, while ‘endeavouring’ to be as accurate as possible, are more about capturing a painterly feel, rather than all the finer details of rigging and running lines.
It was a fine balance to get all the elements to fit together, in as a convincing way as possible. The paintings were produced and framed to work as a series or as stand alone paintings. Nearly all the paintings in this ‘Endeavour Exhibition’ were sold.