This edition of the OAS Journal celebrates the opening of the exciting new exhibition, “Built on Culture: the Art of Papua New Guinea, celebrating 40 years of PNG Independence” on 14th September this year at the National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea. Mike Gunn reports on how this significant development for PNG’s premier cultural institution came to fruition and what promise it heralds for enhancing the important role the museum plays in that country’s evolving civil society.
The exhibition is the first result of the Twinning Partnership between the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery and three Australian institutions: the National Gallery of Australia; the National Museum of Australia, and the Australian War Memorial. The exhibition marked the 40th anniversary of Papua New Guinea’s independence and is to be followed with longer-term capacity- building activities to enhance the Papua New Guinea Museum and Art Gallery.
This wonderful display, coinciding with the National Gallery of Australia’s stunning, Myth + Magic, highlighted in the last edition of the OAS Journal, only emphasises the growing recognition of the importance of Oceanic art in the Pacific region, including Australia.
Those fortunate to hear Harry Beran’s OAS talk at the Australian Museum on Innovation in Traditional Oceanic Art were treated to an insightful lecture into the intricacies of various ‘traditional’ objects. His talk aimed to “rescue the topic of artistic innovation in traditional Oceanic from neglect” by showing that in some regions of Oceania the creation of innovative versions of existing types of objects was not uncommon and that at least in the Asmat and Massim regions talented woodcarvers developed a recognisable personal version of the carving style of their regions. His talk, based on an essay which is available from Harry (contact the Editor or Harry directly by email) found that the evidence suggests that “innovation was a normal and regular practice in some Oceanic societies”.
In this edition we have the second half of Ron May’s sweeping History of the Sepik, and Part Two of Barry Craig’s fascinating series on the World War One Military Collections from German New Guinea in the South Australian Museum. We take a look at a more recent field collector of Oceanic Art – OAS member, Todd Barlin, and notes some of the institutions that have benefited from his generous donations of traditional objects, especially from West Papua. We also have a report from Crispin Howarth of the Tribal Art Fair in London, which this year ran in tandem with another highly successful Parcours in Paris.
As 2015 draws to a close, after a particularly active and satisfying year, it is time again for the OAS Annual General Meeting to be held at the Australian Museum at 10.00 am on November 14. All members are most welcome and are encouraged to consider increasing their engagement with the Society through participating in the organizing committee, or in one or other of the various events that the OAS hosts, including the annual art fair and forums. As always this Journal welcomes contributions from experienced or aspiring authors who can enlighten readers on any aspect of Oceanic art. It is only through the efforts of members and other correspondents that the Society and its Journal can continue to provide a focal point for those interested in furthering their own knowledge and appreciation of Oceanic art. On that note I would like to personally thank all the many contributors for their hard work in penning the stories and reports that have filled the pages of this Journal in 2015. A collective Well Done! I look forward to sharing a full and fulfilling 2016 with you which will bring new knowledge, new experiences and satisfying fellowship of a common passion.