Daniel Boyd: Pediment/Impediment

18 November 2020 – 27 June 2021

‘Pediment/Impediment’ was Contemporary Art Project #1, the inaugural exhibition in a series of new contemporary art commissions in the Chau Chak Wing Museum's Penelope Gallery.

Sydney-based artist Daniel Boyd has often worked with archives and museum collections as source material to create his vision of decolonisation. In a career just short of two decades, many of his projects have used the idea of darkness as a form of Indigenous resistance to counter the power of Enlightenment ideas and western civilisation.

Over a period of months, Boyd researched the museum’s various collections, eventually selecting a group of 19th century plaster casts and a model of the Athenian Acropolis from the Nicholson Collection of antiquities.

For this new commission entitled Pediment/Impediment, the artist has veiled the entire Penelope Gallery in pinpoints of light. In the mottled half-light, a number of classical plaster casts can be made out amid mirrored pools of light, forming a disturbing and eerie space. In this installation, the transplanted second-hand versions of western civilisations are recast, inviting other ways of seeing our past and future.

I actually used the Endeavour voyage as a starting point. The landscape of Cooktown – where they stopped to repair the ship after they’d hit a reef – was a way to speak about other things too … a way of exploring my great-great grandmother’s connection to that area and her relationship with my great-great grandfather from Vanuatu, Samuel Pentecost.
Daniel Boyd on his work at the British Museum, researching the First Fleet collection


Daniel Boyd was born in Cairns, Queensland, in 1982, he is of the Kudjila/Gangalu peoples, from Clermont South to the Dawson River region of mid Queensland.

Featured image (top of page): Daniel Boyd, installation using a model of the Acropolis at Athens (NM2008.4), 2020.

Related exhibitions