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OAS Forum at Melbourne Savage Club

October 21, 2017 @ 9:30 am


The Oceanic Art Society is delighted to announce,

This extraordinary, once-only, event:

The OAS Forum
to take place at the
The Savage Club
in central Melbourne,Victoria, Australia

on Saturday 21 October 2017

Places at the Forum are severely limited and, as bookings are already heavy, we are taking only another ten (10) people and there is a maximum limit of 96 places for dinner.

The cost for the day at the Savage Club, which covers lunch plus morning and afternoon tea, hire of the room and audiovisuals, is
$250 per person for OAS & Savage Club members,
and $300 for non or lapsed OAS members.

Dinner will also be held at the Savage Club for $95 per person with two courses and wine.

All registrations and payments must be received by or before September 21. No payments or registrations will be accepted on the day. It is essential that we confirm exact numbers for dinner at the club no later than Friday 7 October. Due to demand and the fixed cost of hiring the Savage Club there can be no refunds for non attendance. Wines and waters will be provided at dinner but please note that it will not be possible to purchase drinks at the club at any stage during the day or evening. Any special dietary requirements should be advised.


Schedule of events for the day:

9.30-10:00 Morning tea

10:10.15 Welcome by Dr Michael Martin, Savage Club and OAS member.

10:15-10:45 Ross Bowden – Dip.Soc.Anthrop., PhD. Will give an overview of the Savage Club collection and the speaker’s own fieldwork in the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea. This talk will provide a brief overview of the four major parts of the Melbourne Savage Club’s collection of Oceanic and Aboriginal art and what is known about their donors. The speaker will also give a brief account of his own two years of fieldwork principally among the Kwoma of the Washkuk Hills in Papua New Guinea.

10.45-11.15 Michael Hamson – on The Aesthetics of New Guinea Art, using images to explain the seven criteria he has developed to judge the difference between the good, the great and the masterpiece.

11.15-11:45 Virginia-Lee Webb Ph.D. – Expedition or Grand Tour: Some early twentieth-century voyages to the Pacific. During the first half of the twentieth century numerous groups of individuals embarked on round the world trips that included visits through the Pacific region. Undertaken by wealthy families crossing the oceans in luxurious ships of all sizes, many followed the style of the Grand Tour during which members of society’s elite completed their cultural education by visiting the capitals of Europe. Other tours were conceived purely for pleasure and adventure and these ventured round the world often making stops in parts of the Pacific region. As was also the case, the individuals organizing these voyages were often philanthropists with significant social standing in their communities. Others were seeking fame. Thus, the blurring between private tour and public expedition occurs. This lecture will discuss several of these voyages and their objectives, itineraries and results.

11:45-12.15 Dr Susan Kloman of Christies New York – On the hero Bilishoi and the Provenance of an important corpus of Biwat sculptures. The talk will discuss briefly the iconography of the important Biwat (Mundugumor) figure formerly in the collection of the Savage Club and the concentric circles of collecting history in the 1920s and 30s for this and the two other major works of art we know of this type of roof figure depicting the ancestral hero, Bilishoi.

12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Crispin Howarth – NGA – Canberra – Skull portraiture of the Sepik River.
There are some 400 over-modelled skulls from the Sepik River held in collections in Australia and many times more elsewhere in the world. Often we are told they are the victims from head-hunting expeditions, trophies of the vanquished. Crispin Howarth takes a look at the production and purpose of these startling objects.

2:00-2.30 Sam Singer – San Francisco – Casa of Curiosities: Seldom Seen Oceanic Art Selections from the Singer Collection… Sam and Sharon Singer each grew up in academic households. Sharon is the daughter of an economics professor at Stanford University. Sam is the son of a psychology professor and a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The two schools are fierce rivals. The Singers are not. Growing up on the edge of the Pacific they have spent the past 20 years collecting Oceanic, Aboriginal, Indonesian and Himalayan art. Mr Singer will show never before seen photographs of their collection inside their home and rare pictures of a few of their favourite things.

2:30-3:00 Mark Blackburn – Hawaii – Cultural Repatriation; issues facing collectors and museums today. In the wake of the recent legislation to push through the STOP Act in the United States along with the co- sponsored meetings on intangible cultural heritage held by UNESCO, collectors and institutions worldwide are facing even more challenges today as indigenous people and countries force this issue to the forefront. This along with the original 1970 UNESCO convention combined with the UNIDROIT Convention of 1995 make owning and moving cultural objects even more difficult today. Mark Blackburn will be giving an update on the current proposed legislation in both the EU and the US and current examples of recent seizures and other issues. A candid balanced conversation will ensue discussing the pitfalls from both sides of the issue and how a provenance prior to the year 1970 is a game changer. Mark will also be discussing the recent ivory legislation both pending and enacted around the world and what the CITES convention really means.

3:00-3.30 Afternoon tea

3:30-4:00 D’Lan Davidson – Melbourne – From Conflict to Confidence: How Australian Indigenous Contemporary Art and Artefacts aesthetically and courageously collide. The Australian Indigenous art market has previously long been divided by these two very separate markets – Art and Artefacts. This discussion will touch on why the international and local markets have now taken a fresh lens to the entire movement, discovering that these early art-objects help provide support and confidence by protecting and strengthening the market of Australia’s Indigenous contemporary works of art. The resulting outcome has given birth to an ever-increasing and internationally revered contemporary movement.

4:00-4.30 Anthony Meyer, Paris – On Bringing Tribal Art to the Marketplace in Europe & the United States – a brief history. The market place for tribal art is not only spread across the globe it is also spread out through time. Much is forgotten, little is remembered – thus I propose to offer a brief visual foray into the early years of the tribal art market looking at the faces of the people who were the main early makers and shakers in Europe and the United States. It is People that make the Market and the Market makes the art – ART. The history of the Tribal Art Market is really more about the people who found, collected, bought, traded, loved, hated, and sold tribal art since the very first contact then the artefacts we so desperately seek to acquire.
Through the vision, the intelligence and the emotions of collectors, dealers, and academics Tribal Art has come of age. Without the people before us we would not be here…

4.30 – 4:45 Dr Bill Rathmell, President, Oceanic Art Society Inc.

4.45-5.30 Opportunity to see Club under supervision of Club/OAS members

Two hour break

7.30-9.30 Dinner at the Club


All enquiries to:

Robin Hodgson
Oceanic Art Society
PO Box 1084 Edgecliff, NSW 2027 Australia
Tel: 61 2 9332 3984
[email protected]



October 21, 2017
9:30 am
Event Categories:


Oceanic Art Society


Melbourne Savage Club
Melbourne, Victoria Australia + Google Map