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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Old spirit of the sea, from Duyfken: The Aboriginal Print Portfolio



Laurel Nannup


1943 -

Language group

Binjareb, South-west region


This limited edition print portfolio was produced in July 2006 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Dutch-Australian relations. Sponsored by Rabobank, the portfolio was produced by the Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The title of the portfolio is drawn from the name of the first Dutch ship to land on Australian shores, the Duyfken or Little Dove. A vessel of the Dutch East India Company, the Duyfken landed on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula in March 1606 and Captain William Janszoon and his men went ashore. The portfolio is based on the notion of 'first encounters' to highlight this little known fact.

The Duyfken portfolio brings together 10 Indigenous artists from across the country with diverse art practices, resulting in an important collection of works that explore the notion of 'first encounters' in a number of ways and shed light on the exchanges that took place with a number of countries prior to colonisation.

The documentation for this print states:

"The 'Duyfken' in 1606 was the first ship to sail to what is now called Australia. Commander Willem Janszoon sailed down south of the west coast of Cape York for 200 miles. The sailors' first encounter with the Aboriginal people was not friendly, the crew was attacked and being short of supplies Janszoon decided to turn back. One could only guess what the Aboriginals thought when they saw the big white sails of the Duyfken; the sails would have looked like a big white bird, and the sailors, being white, would have made the Aboriginal people think
it was their ancestors' spirits coming back from the dead".


Place where the work was made

Perth Western Australia Australia



Media category


Materials used

lift-ground, aquatint and spit-bite etching, black and brown ink with hand colouring on Velin Arches 200gsm white wove paper




60.0 x 40.0 cm platemark; 76.0 x 56.0 cm sheet


Gift of Rabobank Australia Ltd 2007


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Laurel Nannup

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Referenced in 2 publications


Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Duyfken, Netherlands, 2006, (colour illus.). Commemorative brochure, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Anne Virgo (Editor), Australian Print Workshop bulletin, 'Duyfken Folio', pg. 4, Fitzroy, 2007, 4 (colour illus.).