Image: Mathias Kauage ‘Independence Celebration 1999’, Andrew Baker Collection. Image by Mick Richards.
The desire to know – curiosity – has long been a motivating force in human endeavour. In this issue of the OAS Journal we see that evident nearly 200 years ago in the travels of Frenchman Dumont d’Urville in Melanesia (a term he coined) right up to the present in the works of PNG contemporary artists, Francis Poka and the late Mathias Kauage. While d’Urville encountered a completely new world and recorded it in words and images in his journals, the PNG artists have the lens turned the other way; they are trying to understand and make sense of the outside world that has arrived on their shores, and in their mountains, transforming life, for better or worse. Our own sense of curiosity, in different cultures, places, peoples and art forms is satisfyingly piqued by these stories.
The members lucky enough to attend the OAS AGM on Saturday 16 November also experienced this sensation through the brilliant lecture given by Brent Kerehona on his relative, Hongi Hika, and the machinations of the various Maori tribes in pre-colonial New Zealand during the Musket Wars (1807-1837).
The meeting also fulfilled its more mundane but essential tasks of re-electing office holders and receiving annual reports from returning President, Bill Rathmell. In essence all positions and board members were returned for another year; the 2019 OAS Forum and TAFS were both judged great successes, and the OAS finances deemed sound, albeit with a small loss for the year. Dr. Michael Martin, as Chair of the OAS 2020 Melbourne Forum Committee, outlined his plans as they currently stand, which include a confirmed full day at the wonderful Savage Club and further events, in discussion, with Victoria’s leading art institutions. This promises to be a superb Forum, building on the success of the previous three, and full details will be shared with members as they become available.
One new addition to the OAS Committee is Margaret Cassidy, a former near thirty year veteran of the ABC, who has joined with the intention of assisting in the production of this journal. An OAS Journal Editorial Board has been formed to help streamline the editorial process, which can sometimes be demanding. We will now plan ahead for the next four issues and ask members for their comments and requests in terms of what articles; reviews; interviews and reports they would like to see grace these pages. Contributions by members are always welcome.
In this issue we also investigate the story behind a particularly striking artefact recently gifted to the South Australian Museum and Noelle Rathmell-Stiels reports from the world’s premier tribal art fair, Parcours des Mondes in Paris and we read of the success of our own antipodean version, Tribal Arts Fair Sydney. Both fairs continue to go from strength-to-strength, which certainly seems to imply that the innate human emotion of curiosity remains undiminished for Oceanic art aficionados.