Monster Theatres artist highlight

Megan Cope is a Quandamooka artist who currently lives and works between Minjerribah(North Stradbroke Island) and Melbourne.

Can you find these places on a map of Australia?

Cope began her art practice in painting and drawing, with a particular focus on mapping. Recently Cope has turned her hand to sculpture, installation, video and sound.

Untitled (Death Song) is both an installation and a musical instrument. The objects of the instrument are repurposed relics from the mining industry, including oil drums, geological samples from the South Australian Drill Core Reference Library. Each item produces a unique sound and contributes to a musical score which takes its first note from the haunting cries of the yellow-eyed Bush Stone-curlew.

Fact about the the Bush Stone-curlew

  • It is a ground-dwelling bird endemic to Australia
  • They have long, thin legs, grey-brown plumage
  • They are primarily nocturnal
  • Their habitats include grasslands, open woodland, mallee, mangroves and rainforest fringes.
  • It is listed as an endangered species with New South Wales and Victoria due to increases in land clearing, habitat loss, and predation by feral cats and foxes.
  • One of the most striking attributes of the Bush Stone-curlew is its distinctive call, a ghost-like “weer-lo” sound and is often mistaken for a crying baby or wailing woman.
My work is inspired by the stories of my people and our Country, coastal North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), and the sense of connection we have to the landscape. When I’m there I feel like I am back to where I belong, I am welcome there. It is our place, it will always be our place and being there reminds me of who I am and where I am going.
Megan Cope

Hear Megan Cope’s sculpture sound it’s haunting musical score

Your Turn

Transform a found object so that it can make a unique sound.

Have each member in your family find an object from around the home that you can each transform into a musical instrument. Record your sounds to create a collaborative composition.

What action is required for the sound to be heard?

Can you change the pitch or pace of this sound so that it is now a ‘warning sound’?

Consider how one sound will blend into the other, or how they might overlap or be repeated.

Make more sounds

Cope is inspired by her Country, coastal Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah). Draw where you live and make a sound recording of this place to accompany your drawing.

installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres featuring Untitled (Death Song) by Megan Cope, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, photo: Saul Steed.