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Australian art

Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Daniel Boyd comments on the nature of Australian history through his series of portraits of colonial ‘heroes’, with Sir Joseph Banks depicted here upon his return from the Endeavour voyage. At first glance these portraits appear to be tributes to the status and achievements of the subjects, but closer inspection exposes the roles they played in subjugating Aboriginal people and taking part in acts of piracy. In titling this work Sir No Beard Boyd recalls the infamous pirate Blackbeard, while referencing the time of Cook’s landing when local Aboriginal people presumed Cook and his crew were women due to their lack of facial hair.

Banks is surrounded by the objects he collected. Most confronting among these is a specimen jar containing the head of an Aboriginal man. This self-portrait of Boyd chillingly refers to the practice of beheading Aboriginal resistance fighters and preserving their heads in jars, either as trophies or for supposed ‘scientific’ research, as was done to the Sydney resistence fighter Pemulwuy.

Cara Pinchbeck, Our Lands, 2017


Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


183.5 x 121.5 cm stretcher


Gift of Clinton Ng 2012. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Daniel Boyd

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Our Land, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 21 Jan 2017–18 Jun 2017

Referenced in 3 publications


Djon Mundine, Art & Australia, 'Whisper in my mask: the art of Daniel Boyd', pg. 636-643, Sydney, May 2013-Jul 2013, 639. general reference to the 'No Beard' series

Dan Rule, Bergit Arends, Jarrod Rawlins, Djon Mundine and Daniel Boyd, Daniel Boyd: The law of closure, Melbourne, 2015, 194 (colour illus.). 06

Jill Sykes, Look, 'A winner', pg. 16-18, Sydney, May 2014, 17, 18 (colour illus.).