Transit of Venus: rare objects mark a rare event

28 May 2012

Untitled, Daniel Boyd, 2011, courtesy of Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Part of the 'Transit of Venus' exhibition.
Untitled, Daniel Boyd, 2011, courtesy of Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Part of the 'Transit of Venus' exhibition.

When Lieutenant James Cook left Plymouth to explore the South Pacific he was in search of not just the mythical great southern land, he hoped to witness the 1769 Transit of Venus across the Sun.

Now, an exhibition at the University's Tin Sheds Gallery is celebrating the anniversary of that 1769 Transit of Venus, and probing the connections between science, art and culture from both a western and Indigenous perspective.

Prominent Indigenous artist Daniel Boyd has selected items from the University's Macleay collection, juxtaposing them with his own paintings, video works, installations and drawings to explore the impact of the Transit of Venus on Indigenous Australia.

Visitors will see a ballast stone from The Endeavor, shells from Tahiti, a human skull, a telescope, a series of rare books, including an 1893 edition of Captain Cook's journal and 1875 edition of the Observations made of the Transit of Venus amongst other items.

The Transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event that happens in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart. The next transit will occur on June 6.

The Transit of Venus - an exhibition with Daniel Boyd, explores the ramifications of Captain Cook's fateful journey, not just for the Aboriginal people of Australia, but also more broadly for our understanding of the connections between science, art, astronomy and geography.

To coincide with the exhibition Dr Andrew Jacob from the Sydney Observatory will give a public lecture Mapping the size of the Universe: The Transit of Venus on 21 June at 6.30pm in Tin Sheds Gallery.

The exhibition is co-presented by the Tin Sheds Gallery and the Macleay Museum.

The Faculty of Science is also running a full day of public events on Wednesday 6 June to mark the Transit of Venus, including free talks and telescope viewings. Visit the Faculty of Science Outreach website for full details.

Event details

What: The Transit of Venus - an exhibition with Daniel Boyd 

When: 25 May to 23 June

Where: Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, 154 City Road, Chippendale. See map 

Cost: Free

For more information, contact Tin Sheds Gallery on 9351 3115 or 9351 8570.

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Media enquiries: Kath Kenny, 0478 303 173, 02 9351 1584,