Transit of Venus – Public Programs

A ballast stone from The Endeavor, shells gathered 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, some stuffed parrots – these are some of the items from the Macleay collection that will be on display in the Tin Sheds Gallery during the exhibition The Transit of Venus. The objects have been chosen by Daniel Boyd and will be combined with his own paintings, video works, installations and drawings to explore the impact of the Transit of Venus on Australian history.

June 5 this year marks the second anniversary of the Transit of Venus since Australia was colonized in 1788. The Transit of Venus is rare astrological event that happens in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart. To mark this auspicious event Tin Sheds Gallery and the Macleay Museum are hosting The Transit of Venus – An exhibition with Daniel Boyd. The exhibition will explore 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.

Exhibition opens: May 24th 6pm.

Public Programs:

June 14th 6.30pm, Tin Sheds Gallery

Human Remains: Museum Object or Crime Scene? A discussion on the repatriation of human remains from museum collections. Daniel Boyd, artist in The Transit of Venus and Matt Poll, Sydney University Repatriation Project.

June 21 6.30pm, Tin Sheds Gallery

Mapping the size of the Universe: The Transit of Venus, Dr. Andrew Jacob, Astronomy Curator Sydney Observatory, Powerhouse.

To watch an interview with Daniel Boyd at the Museum of Natural History in London click here.

2012 Innovate/Curate Grant now $8000!

Tin Sheds Gallery is pleased to announce that we will now be offering $8000 to the successful winner of the 2013 Innovate/Curate Exhibition and Grant! That is double the amount originally on offer.

Application forms available here: Innovate/Curate form

Deadline 30th May 2012

Closing performances and drinks – Saturday 19th May 2-5pm

Tin Sheds Gallery would like to invite you for closing performances and drinks for We need you, you need us curated by Georgie Meagher and Červená Voda (Red Water) by Nathan Babet

Saturday 19th May, 2-5pm

We need you, you need us – 2pm performance by artist Paul Gazzola

The first annual shareholders meeting of the newly formed company Thrill for Profit will take place at the gallery from 2pm.

Whilst only registered shareholders are eligible to vote any interested parties are free to attend.

NB: As investors are still being sought in this new group the sale and purchase of shares will be available up to the meetings start time.

Červená Voda (Red Water)– 3pm performance by
artist Nathan Babet

Artist Nathan Babet will end his mark his month long “..apprenticeship with the forest” by performing his rite of passage and initiation as a ‘Journeyman’ venturing into the unknown.

‘The Transit of Venus – An exhibition with Daniel Boyd’ Opens 24th May 6pm

Curated by Matt Poll (Assistant Curator Indigenous Heritage, Macleay Museum, The University of Sydney) and Zanny Begg (Director Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney.      

“Also because it’s nice to talk like everyone else, to say the sun rises, when everybody knows it’s only a manner of speaking” DELEUEZE AND GUATTARI, A Thousand Plateaus.

June 6, 2012, marks the second anniversary of the Transit of Venus since Australia was colonized in 1788. The Transit of Venus is a rare astrological event (that occurs in a repeating pattern of two transits separated by eight yars every 243 years) that led Captain Cook to Tahiti, on his way to Australia, in 1769. The last Transit of Venus was observed in 2004 and the next one after the 2012 transit will be in 2117. Observations of the Transit of Venus were important for early scientists to enable them to determine the size of the universe. The desire to measure and map the far reaches of the outer universe coincided with a desire to map and colonize the “new lands” of Oceania and the South Pacific: a fact evidenced by Captain Cook’s voyage on the Endeavour being jointly sponsored by the Royal British Navy and the Royal Society (one of the world’s oldest scientific organisations, founded in 1660, to further understanding of the natural world). Captain Cook was officially dispatched to Tahiti to observe the Transit but his mission included a “sealed packet” with subsequent instructions to sail onto to Terra australis ingognita. 1 

The Transit of Venus – An exhibition with Daniel Boyd presents an opportunity to revisit the consequences of Captain Cook’s voyage on the Endeavor assessing its ramifications, not just for the Aboriginal people of Australia, but also more broadly for our understanding of the connections between science, art, astronomy and geography.

The role of astronomy in transforming the Catholic Church’s grip on medieval Europe cannot be overestimated; it was only in 2008 that one of the founders of modern astronomy, Galileo Galilee, was officially pardoned by the Church that denounced him as a heretic over 400 years earlier for his insistence that the earth revolved around the sun. Among the world’s Indigenous peoples this knowledge was not particularly new, perhaps the most famous example would be the Aztec Calendar that clearly depicts the sun at the centre of our universe. Across numerous Indigenous knowledge systems, in the Americas, Australia and the Pacific Islands, and the African continent, there was an understanding of the relationship between the sun, the planets and the earth – this knowledge appears in creation stories, maps, and in the navigational prowess that enabled Indigenous explorers to migrate across the vast distances of the sea.

For Captain Cook and the Royal Society accurate data on the transit of Venus was obtained by calibrating several observations, from various parts of the world, into single coordinates thereby striating the world within a grid that has become the blueprint for modern geopolitical mapping of the continents. This knowledge was both used to map the far reaches of the cosmos and the expanding terrain of colonization on earth: Naval Officers of the 18th century akin to the astronauts of today, heading out into unknown territories, hoping to bring back scientific discoveries and glory for the home country.

But while Captain Cook has received the credit for the ‘discovery’ of Australlia, it should also be noted that he relied on the invaluable experience of the Tahitian navigational expert Tupea to first find and survey a map of New Zealand but to then also make his way across to the eastern coast of the Australian mainland. On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Transit of Venus we can look again at the experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous explorers, scientist and artists and revisit previously help assumptions about knowledge and our place in the universe.

Artist Daniel Boyd first came to prominence with a series of works that subverted the narrative authority of Australian history paintings by questioning the legitimacy of the heroic explorer. He has recently returned from a residency at the Natural History Museum in London and his works are held in the collections of The National Gallery of Australia, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, The National Gallery of Victoria, The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, The National Gallery of Victoria and The Art Gallery of New South Wales. In this solo exhibition he will work with items from the collection at the Macleay Museum to explore the significance of the Transit of Venus for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous understandings of the universe. 

1.  Nick Lomb, Transit of Vensus 1631 to the Present, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney: 2011.

Exhibition continues until the 23 June 2012.

For more information contact:

2013 Exhibition Proposals / 2013 Innovate/Curate Grant Applications due 30th May

A reminder that we are currently accepting proposals for our 2013 Exhibition Program and for our 2013 Innovate/Curate Grant.

Applications are due by 30th May 2012.

For more information visit our Exhibition Proposals and Innovate/Curate Application Form sections on this website.


Červená Voda (Red Water) – Nathan Babet (Hrebabetzky)

Opening Friday 20 April 6-8pm 

In Červená Voda (Red Water) Babet continues his exploration of the 600-year-old European tradition of the Wandergesellen (Journeymen) he began with his impressive installation of Unheimliche Heimat (Uncanny Homeland) at Ivan Dougherty Gallery in 2010. Adopting the distinctive attire of the Zimmermann (carpenter) and some of the symbols and mythology of the Journeymen’s auf der Walz – a three-year nomadic apprenticeship in which they exchange labour for food and lodgings – Babet takes the viewer on a journey into the murky realms of nostalgia. For Babet the exodus of the journeyman is a metaphor that allows him to explore some of the legacies of his own family’s flight from Europe but also more broadly the ways in which we negotiate a sense of displacement from times past.

Yolande Norris recently wrote about a growing cultural fascination with nostalgia, suggesting that we are “searching for the shard of someone within us – someone who shared our genes in the millennia before we were born, in a time of being free in the world. No job no money no need. Everything pregnant and humming with meaning and purpose… The once huge mythical appeal of technology – that insatiable future lust – has all but dried up as the digital era becomes as pedestrian and suburban as all Earth-shattering advancements before it. We want something else… That which is unordinary. Ritualistic, shamanistic. The symbolic, the primitive, the mystic occult. Pagan.”

Babet searches for this “something else” through the ritual of the Wandergesellen and the physicality of a labour from a time gone by, two slow motion videos showing him reckoning with the forest woods. A central motif in Červená Voda (Red Water) is the forest, the ominous monoculture of the pine plantation a backdrop for Babets’s interest in his great grandfather’s work as district forester of the mountainous region bordering Moravia and Bohemia following the First World War. The dense greeny black of the pine-plantations cut a foreign swathe through the dusty greens of Australian bushland. Yet, as Babet points out, the archetypal ballad of the Australian bushland swagman, Waltzing Matilda, has it roots in the restless feet of the journeyman’s auf der Walz. What constitutes identity is often complicated by our shifting notions of home – the place we long for ending up as unstable as our image of the future. It is this instability that aches through Babet’s work as he carefully constructs a nostalgia for a time that somehow always slips ahead of us.

As if to provide a vantage point to survey this complex terrain Babet constructs a watchtower, referencing the Soviet watchtowers from the Gulags of Siberia in which his grandfather languished before fleeing to Australia. This spindly structure has its own quiet menace that contrasts with the whimsies Babet will construct as he uses the period of the exhibition to enact his own version of the journeyman’s apprenticeship with the forest.

For more information tel: 02 9351 3115


Exhibition continues until May 19 5pm

‘We need you, you need us’ – Curated by Georgie Meagher

‘We need you, you need us’

Paul Gazzola
Dara Gill
Agatha Gothe-Snape
Sebastian Moody 
Lara Thoms

Curated by Georgie Meagher 

Opening night Friday 20 April 6-8pm 

In ‘We need you, you need us’ five artists from across Australia respond to the idea of “The Experience Economy” – presenting sculptural, performative and interactive works which question the role of the artist in a capitalist economic framework and explore the precarities of artistic practice. An artist fee will be sealed inside the walls of the gallery, artworks will be freely distributed, and audiences can gamble for an insight into economic success, or a year-long relationship. Questioning the sensibility of the artist as intellectually or physically superior, both the role of the artist and artwork are deconstructed by processes of imitation and reproduction in five new works.

Exhibition continues until May 19 5pm 

Two upcoming exhibitions – ‘We need you, you need us’ and ‘Červená Voda (Red Water)’

We have two new exciting exhibitions opening mid April at the Tin Sheds Gallery.

We need you, you need us 
Paul Gazzola
Dara Gill
Agatha Gothe-Snape
Sebastian Moody
Lara Thoms

Curated by Georgie Meagher

Červená Voda (Red Water)
Nathan Babet (Hrebabetzky)

Both exhibitions open Friday 20 April 6-8pm

Gallery open till 8pm tonight – Tim Burns Survey

The Tin Sheds Gallery will be open until 8pm tonight. Tim burns will be in the space to answer any questions you might have regarding his survey exhibition.

Art Month – Chippendale Art at Night TONIGHT 6pm