Flight or Fight #1 Old Rivers, Deep Water (Lake Qadisiya & Lake Assad)

Accession Number AWM2019.58.1
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 121 cm x 103 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description used engine oil, ink and acrylic on paper and linen, mounted in North Stradbroke Island blue gum
Maker Cope, Megan
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: Queensland, Brisbane, Stradbroke Island
Date made 2018-2019
Conflict Period 2010-2019

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


In 2017 the Australian War Memorial commissioned its first female Aboriginal official war artist, Quandamooka woman Megan Cope, to travel to the Middle East to accompany various Defence units participating in Operation Accordion. She was initially sent to the United Arab Emirates, before being attached to Australian Defence Force units in the Middle East. There she recorded and interpreted subjects concerning Australia's contribution to the international effort in the Middle East Region.

Cope's series of works titled 'Flight or fight' was primarily inspired by a ten-hour flight she took over the Middle East. This painting follows the route flown on an Australian KC30 tanker up over the Persian Gulf and then up along the ancient rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Cope recalled that the sight of Lake Qadisiya was spectacular and very distinct, and remembers that the RAAF pilots she accompanied on this flight identified the lake as a wayfinder on their daily trips along the river.

It was important for Cope that her works held a visual connection to the types of maps she had in her school as a child. She said, "Kids today probably won't ever know what those maps look like, but I really wanted my maps to have that weight, and to reflect that time of how we learn about the world ... I've been so challenged by those sorts of maps and that knowledge that was prescribed onto them". Thus, it was important for Cope to present her maps in a similar fashion and she did so by incorporating some of her Country. This particular work is mounted to North Stradbroke Island blue gum.

Cope is part social cartographer, curator, writer and artist. Her site specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings lingers within the dualistic spaces of split heritage and contested land, investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and conflicted personal encounters. Her work explores the myths and methods of colonisation and circumvents hegemonic sovereignty.