This painting is drawing direct reference from the hand-coloured lithograph produced by Louis Auguste de Sainson...De Sainson was the appointed draughtsman on the Astrolabe commanded by Dumont d’Urville. The lithograph itself was printed in 1833.
The image depicts the area within King George Sound, south-west Western Australia, probably Middleton Beach. In the foreground, members from d’Urville’s expedition load water onto one of the ship’s longboats via a long ﬂexible hose. Interaction between the crew and the Minang people is obvious and positive with several individuals helping to load water.1
This historical image is a rare snapshot of some of the ﬁrst interactions between Europeans and the Minang people. It shows the exchange of ideas however different they are. It is the point where new ways of thinking are discovered.
Physics provides a detailed equation using pressure, depth, atmospheric pressure, density of water and acceleration of gravity to explain how a siphon works. Hydrology (the science of water on earth) gives us detailed theories and explanation of river formation, one of which I have placed within the painting.
To me the work provides optimism through the way in which the French interact with the Minang people, but it also symbolises the beginning of change in ideas and, ultimately, beliefs.
Christopher Pease, 2005
1. Alternative names: Minung, Meenung, Mirnong, Mean-anger, Minnal Yungar (lit. ‘southern men’), Meenung (name given by Ko:reng), Mount Barker tribe.