The worldwide virus lockdown has hit all aspects of art and culture particularly hard. Cultural spaces and gatherings are often run on a low budget and it is hard to see some of them recovering. As well, the Oceanic and Aboriginal communities that are the custodians of the art and culture that we revere are likely to suffer disproportionately, as many of them are very disadvantaged. I’m sure everyone reading this is already doing whatever they can to support those communities and cultures.
The OAS itself has had to cancel all of its planned Sydney, Australia activities in 2020. Around the world, cancellations and postponements abound – the organisers of the Parcours des Mondes have not yet confirmed to us that it is to go ahead – if it does it will probably be competing with the delayed Brussels BRUNEAF (moving to a time-slot apparently vacated by the cancelled Tribal Art London), not to mention the climax of the Tour de France, all scheduled for the first part of September 2020.
Until a few days ago, the OAS was planning on the basis that international travel bans and social distancing rules would have been relaxed sufficiently to enable our 25th Anniversary Forum to go ahead on the weekend of the 14th November 2020 in Melbourne and that mid-November in Australia would be one of the first international trips on Oceanic Art lovers’ calendars as the lockdown abates. However, the institutions that had offered to host the event are still uncertain about their future status, and the timing of the opening of Australia’s borders to inter-continental travel remains uncertain. Therefore the OAS will try to plan a different, flexible, 25th Anniversary event in November, with scope to augment it, if it becomes available to intercontinental attendees. Watch this space. And we already have tentative plans for Forums in 2021.
The second piece of good news is that Margaret Cassidy has taken over the role of Editor of the Oceanic Art Society Journal. Margaret’s studies encompassed both fine arts and science from three universities, and she has extensive editorial, policy and strategy experience from her senior management roles at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She was Head of the ABC’s national radio networks and also Deputy Director of the technology division. Since leaving the ABC, Margaret is undertaking a PhD in the Media program of the University of Tasmania where her research focuses on photojournalism and the visual representation of migrant groups in the Australian media. Margaret is an outstanding addition to the OAS’s main Committee – to which she brings a wealth of new experience and talent.
This is an appropriate time to thank our Vice-President, Jim Elmslie, for his outstandingly effective, eight-year stint as Editor of the Journal. Jim’s expertise and knowledge of the Oceanic Art World need no embellishment from me. Jim has improved the quality of the Journal and its content throughout his period of tenure, especially four or five years ago when the OAS had some abrupt changes of management. In the last year the Journal has received many accolades from members; “the best ever issue”, “the main benefit of membership”. Jim’s input will not be lost, however, as he will continue to work as VP with Margaret (and the rest of the main Committee) on the Journal and on other aspects of the OAS’s work, particularly seeking new inputs from South Australia
The current issue of the Journal contains a fascinating article by Jeffrey Mellefont (who gave the OAS’s last “live” lecture in March, just Before Covid) on Indonesian Boat Art and an extensive review of Bill Evan’s War Art & Ritual: Shields from the Pacific by Jim Elmslie. Members of the OAS can purchase this limited edition book at a favourable price. There is also a review of a scholarly article by Dr Michael Mel on the Ples Namel theme that he presented at the previous OAS Forum and a review of what turned out to be the last major Tribal Art Fair, just BC, in San Francisco.
The third piece of good news is that we are making progress in developing the Website. We shall shortly be putting two lectures that we video recorded on the site, and we are hoping to put on one or more lectures as “webinars”. Members can expect to receive updates on our activities by email from the website. We are a small Society of keen enthusiasts and experts; these shocking world events have thrown our need for more expertise into sharp relief. In the world we live in now, closely connected as we are by the magic of the internet, anyone can contribute, wherever they may live. Please contact me with your ideas: [email protected]
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
The OAS’s physical events are currently postponed with details circulated to Members as the situation clarifies. The earliest OAS physical events will be in November 2020, and may be delayed further.
The OAS is planning some virtual events – details will be posted on the OAS Facebook page and website and circulated to members.