Mark Adams

Nine Fathoms Passage - 27.6.2014 - 1.7.2014 After William Hodges 'Waterfall in Dusky Bay with a Maori Canoe, 1775-7’

Nine Fathoms Passage - 27.6.2014 - 1.7.2014 After William Hodges 'Waterfall in Dusky Bay with a Maori Canoe, 1775-7’ by Mark Adams

Artwork Detail

Nine Fathoms Passage is a 360 degree landscape of a powerfully evocative location that is inseparable from the Māori history of Dusky Sound and the first European artist to live and work there.

In terms of Dusky Sound, Adams expanded the focus with which his art documented what a place may mean and what a space looks like. This is a process of activated observation where what is seen encapsulates a mixture of histories. Adams has not only looked for traces of Cook’s presence in New Zealand but he has brought into this comparison an investigation into how Dusky Sounds appears today. He is contrasting a place’s contemporary appearance with how James Cook and his men experienced this isolated location on their second visit to New Zealand in 1773 when they lived in the area for 47 days. This was the moment of first Pakeha settlement of New Zealand; albeit on a temporary basis.

Mark Adams has made photographs in Dusky Sound on 4 occasions - 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2014 - in order to progressively record views based on an investigation into the site and meaning of William Hodges’ Dusky Bay paintings. He carefully researched the locations Cook visited in the fiord and then chose to return to these 4 specific places which William Hodges had painted.

William Hodges is an important artist in New Zealand’s art history. He was the first professional artist to accompany any voyage of exploration and he was also the first European artist inspired by living and sketching in New Zealand. At Dusky Sound, Hodges met and sketched Māori on a regular basis. The resulting paintings and drawings have become seminal works in the image history of this country.

The first artworks that Hodges made of New Zealand were the wash and watercolour drawings that he painted in March 1773 as they were sailing into the Dusky Bay fiord at noon. They not only carefully delineate the coastal profiles, they reveal the turbulent weather conditions that a number of persons on board the Resolution commented upon in their logs and journals.

James Cook made specific mention of these ink and wash drawings in his journal - “Mr Hodges has drawn a very accurate view both of the North and South entrance as well as several other parts of this Bay, and in them hath delineated the face of the country with such judgement as will at once convey a better idea of it than can be expressed by words”.

Both Cook and Hodges were fascinated by coastal profiles as a way of indicating the unique appearance of land as it is viewed from the sea. They also paid particular attention to the actively changing weather effects. When in Dusky Bay, they were impressed by the density of the indigenous forest, the huge population of bird life and the abundant fish population.

Nine Fathoms Passage - 27.6.2014 - 1.7.2014 After William Hodges 'Waterfall in Dusky Bay with a Maori Canoe, 1775-7’
Mark Adams
Production date
C-type print
1240 x 11022 x 43 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2016
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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