At the ANU Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra there is an exhibition of carpets created in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries over the last 40 years. The distinctive feature of these rugs is the inclusion of rockets, tanks, bombs, Hummers and lots of other armaments of war. I do not cry often in galleries but I came close in this exhibition. The tragedy and trauma of 40 years of invasion and occupation by large nations is visually woven into the traditional art form of rug making. The violence and brutality of war machinery pictured through the finely worked carpets I found confronting.
There is a gorgeous exhibition of artifacts of migrants to Australia at the Museum of Australian Democracy currently. The exhibition brings together stories, pictures, art works, photographs and other materials to tell fascinating stories of courage, bravery, loyalty and love woven through the migrant experience.
The stories are illuminated via belts, suitcases, glass artworks and lots of other treasures. One display has a roll of very large pictures of several generations in a refugee families. This exhibition has a focus on Jewish refugees whose stories have the added power of the intensity of their experience post World War Two.
Sean Davey, Lucile Carson, Euan Graham, Mona Khizam, Penny Ryan, Barak Zelig, Nicci Haynes and Caren Florance were all involved in a great exhibition at the Tuggerenong Arts Centre that I enjoyed but forgot to write up. Ian warden’s article on it does a much better job of covering it than I ever would so I have just included the link to it and some pics below.
This exhibition is confronting and deeply emotional as it seeks to bring attention to the experience of boat borne refugees. The artist was present and explained to us that the genesis of the exhibition was through a friendship shared in shift work with a man who had gone through the experience.
I was touched on an emotional level by pretty much every image in the exhibition. The images have several themes woven through them, water, small boats, huddled people, fear and wire fencing. The images grasp in a vivid way vulnerability of humans on the water. The brutality of wire fencing holding humans from what they are trying to achieve is portrayed with a confronting clarity. The weaving of several themes into single images is very helpful for understanding of the issues.
Below is the gallery sheet and some representative pics
The biggest single art show I have seen in the last several months is the Blake Prize show at the Casula Powerhouse. The displays cover all the gallery spaces and as a religious ideas prize the content and styles are awesomely wide.
There are a large group of cut out bright outlined cardinals. There is a display that takes mugs from ornamental isolation on shelves to smashed rubble returning to the ground..There are portraits, there are mythical style creations and a delightful pair of spray bottles that are bigger than I am.
The range and diversity of styles in this exhibition includes a large carcass of meat. There is a great installation that uses hats and flat screens that tie together the celebration of a birthday. I usually only get one visit to these and in this case I wish I could get back. It was an inspiring set of art works.
Below is a set of snaps taken on the phone in the gallery.
This was an exhibition by artists seeking asylum in Australia.It was open for a week or so and was open on one weekend. There were works by eight artists and they all had a beauty about them. The styles ranged from almost from tagging styles to somber two tone works. Some sample images are below. (There was a wonderful program booklet with author biographies and reproductions of their artworks sold on site.).
Some organisations create a sense of admiration in me. Medicins Sans Frontieres MSF is one of those. Their story is inspiring and the courage and commitment of their people is awesome. Right now at Belconnen Arts Centre they have mounted a display of large format photos that record the heart and elements of their work. The pictures are not all tragic but some are. The pictures are colourful and many of the people in them have an inspiring sort of dignity.
It is wonderful to see in large format pictorial aspects of their courageous work.
The exhibition has some marvelous text material that shows another side of their work accompanied by a map that simply shows locations of the work of MSF.
NIshi Gallery does not advertise well. I go by to look into the window when I am in the area. The one there at present is GOLD. It combines music, sculpture, fabrics painting and other media. However the real awesome feature of it is that it is anchored in a story about lots of migrants and refugees who came to Australia from Germany after the war. They were all musicians or musically connected. When they arrived in Australia there was little interest in giving them orchestral work in post war Australia and so most of them had to walk from their music.
This exhibition uses discarded pianos and a great collection of artifacts to connect with loss. It has music, it has fabrics and it has photographs and it casts a marvelous emotional tone. It tells a story I did not know about and it tells it well.
Below are some connected websites and some images from the exhibition.
I seem to remember hearing that when the Howard Government people dealing with the Tampa situation they were told not to release any face pictures. (I was alleged to be about privacy but most saw it as a way of marginilising them.)
Wendy Sharpe created a set of around 30 portraits in chalk and pastel in collaboration with the Assylum Seekers Centre that celebrate a great range of faces of people who are currently living within our refugee management system. They are full of life, joy and hope. This is the last weekend they are on at Belconnend Arts Centre. Wendy has posted a no photographs sign in her exhibition so I have only included the ephemera. with this post.
Trauma is a constant part of many modern conversations. War, accident, domestic violence all contribute to the world this exhibition addresses. Largely conceived in black and white it has a stark and sometimes immobilised lookabout the works. There are children and crowds, anguish and anger, tortured and torturing, all in a flat but confronting look that remind the viewer that there is little to be exuberant about when dealing with trauma.
Below are some pics and the gallery sheet. Above is the flyer