Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Brisbane, and of Australia's leading contemporary artists. Born in 1982, 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, investigates issues relating to identity, the environment and conflicted personal encounters. Her work explores the myths and methods of colonisation and circumvents hegemonic sovereignty.
Engaging with family stories of war for the first time, Cope began uncovering the histories of seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men from Stradbroke Island who served in the First World War when she was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial in 2014-15 to work on the 'ANZAC Centenary Print Portfolio'. The print she produced for the commission focuses on the service of her great-great uncle Private Richard Martin, who enlisted in December 1914. Martin joined the 15th Battalion in Gallipoli before being transferred to the 47th Battalion and sent to the Western Front. Twice wounded in action in 1916-17, Martin was killed in March 1918 while defending allied lines near the French village of Dernancourt (a sketch match of which features in the background of her print 'Ngaliya Barwan Gami (our Great-uncle) - see ART96846.003).
In November 2017, Cope became the Memorial's first female Aboriginal official war artist. She was sent to Qatar, before she was attached to the Australian Defence Force at the Al Minhad Air Base and the Al Dhafra Air base in the United Arab Emirates. There she recorded and interpreted subjects concerning Australia's contribution to the international effort in the Middle East Area of Operations.
Cope's work is held in public and private collections nationally and internationally. Most recently she was a finalist for the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize and also undertook a residency in Paris with the Australian Print Workshop for the project "French Connections". She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at locations including: 'Haunt', Institute of Modern Art (IMA), Brisbane; 'Concrete: Art, Design, Architecture', Jam Factory, Adelaide; 'Dhaka Art Summit', Dhaka, Bangladesh; 'Installation Contemporary', Sydney Contemporary, Carriageworks, Sydney; 'Octopus 18, Mother Tongue', Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; 'Ex Embassy', Former Australian Embassy, Berlin; 'Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial', National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (and touring); 'Coast: the artist's retreat', Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria; 'Hunter Red (Re(a)d Earth', Lake Macquarie Regional Art Gallery, NSW; 'The National: New Australian Art', Art Gallery of New South Wales; 'Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art,' Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 'Bereft', Artspace, Sydney; 'The Blaktism', Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney and This Is No Fantasy, Melbourne; 'The Tide is High', Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne, and 'Deep Water', Spiro Grace Art Rooms, Brisbane.