‘Of Rabbits and Pirates: After-Images of E. Philips Foxs ‘Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770

This paper explores the role of fantasy in E. Phillips Fox’s historical painting, ‘Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay 1770’ (1902) through two contemporary adaptations of the work in The Rabbits (1998) by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, and Daniel Boyd’s painting, ‘We Call Them Pirates Out Here’ (2006). Although markedly different in terms of their material production and aesthetic approach, the adaptations of ‘Landing of Captain Cook’ recapitulate its colonial fantasy by displacing the hyper-real contents of the original with surrealistic and pop elements, respectively. I suggest that as ‘after-images’, these adaptations usefully complicate the signification of ‘Cook’ and in so doing, engage with dialogues about how ‘Australia’ is constituted, and how it might be imagined. In this sense, the adaptations consciously draw out the fantasy of ‘Australia’ in the original through their later aesthetic permutations.