Bernard Appassamy



The flying nautilus

Commission for the Art Gallery of NSW as part of the National Art Archive's Artists' Book Project during the pandemic

Link to AGNSW video (13 mb)

For over 40 years, citizens from the French islands of New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna needing specialised medical care not available in Noumea have been treated in Sydney as private patients. I am part of the logistics team facilitating this care. The pandemic and the border closure triggered significant anxiety for our patients and their families, and played havoc with our work.

The only French patients currently allowed in the country, under strict protocols, are those needing emergency care. They are flown from Noumea to Sydney on medicalised jets with a nautilus shell on the tailplane.

The nautilus macromphalus shell is endemic to and a popular cultural icon in the region of the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The folding of a nautilus origami points to the precise, delicate and complex layering, and confidentiality of the care for our patients more so in these chaotic times.

A squadron of flying nautiluses say thank you.

Nautilus origami design by Tomoko Fuse here.

With thanks to Steven Miller and Claire Eggleston.