This edition of the Journal includes articles about the early encounters between European missionaries and Aboriginal Australians in Central Australia and European anthropologists and people from the Torres Strait and Papua New Guinea as well as stories of contemporary Pacific artists who are combining ancient art practices and materials with the modern in current exhibitions spanning the globe.
From France, Garance Nyssen has written on Māori artist and carver George Nuku and his Bottled Ocean project which has now been exhibited globally. He actively involves the community in its creation, sometimes placing his plastic creations around the historic collections of Māori cultural objects and items of natural history and challenges viewers with his connections between plastic and Mother Earth.
Currently showing in Sydney are the very large and collaborative textile and digital tapa works of contemporary Pacific Islander artists who are responding to the works of Henri Matisse that in turn were influenced by his travels to the South Pacific. There are aesthetic circles of influence and artistic respect from the Polynesia to the south of France and back again to the South Pacific.
Curator Sally Goers Fox has written about the close connections between the Aboriginal artists through the missionaries of Hermannsburg in Central Australia and the German community in the Barossa Valley. The deciphering and editing of Alfred Haddon’s handwritten Journals from the Torres Strait and New Guinea is another intersection between today and the past, as can be learnt from Crispin Howarth’s book review of Recording Kastom.
Image:`’Matisse Alive’ installation view featuring Robin White’s work at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. For more details, see page 13. Photo © AGNSW, Diana Panuccio.