I am currently starting a project which include large works that depicts my ancestors voyage on the Beagle from 1837 – 1843, mapping sections of Australian coast line that had previously not been explored and mapped by white men.
The Project will include paintings and etchings of the Voyage, from Plymouth in England to circumnavigate the Australian continent, and will be based on journals by the Captain of the voyage, John Lort Stokes. I will paint the voyage on two large water colour sheets (5m x 1.4m) with selected scenes from the image available as limited edition prints.
The image below is an initial sketch of part of the overall work, featuring the Beagle, and some of the observations made.
My great, great grandfather, Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice, worked his way up from a ship’s mate, to a position of assistant surveyor following the first captain Wickham leaving for home after a period of illness. John Lort Stokes, the assistant surveyor, then took on the captaincy of the boat and wrote an exceptional journal that gave snapshots on the life and findings on the seven year adventure.
Lewis, in his role as assistant surveyor, was sent on trips to look for rivers and map the coastline. There are a number of bays, creeks and rivers named after him around Australia. He painted a number of pictures and collected a number of plants and animals to be identified and sent to the British Museum for identification. He was a naturalist, painter and someone who could map.
My history of working with landholders to help them overcome land degradation problems have given me a great understanding and deep love for the environment. I would call myself a naturalist, and with my background in Agricultural Science, I love to observe and pick out the beautiful patterns and colours in nature. I have an affinity with my ancestor and the thought of exploring new country is exciting!!