Many of you may remember the wonderful Jocelyn Leahy from her Beyond Art shop in Port Moresby. Jocelyn is certainly a dynamo when it comes to the art scene with over 22 years of experience behind her she will be bringing to us her latest effort which will be one of the biggest exhibitions of contemporary PNG art to be displayed in Australia. The exhibition will be called Pacific Storms. Here’s a write up below of how it all came together and what it will be about.
Pacific Storms is Pacific now
Living in a contemporary society that is culturally diverse and rapidly changing means it is important that the Arts of these contemporary societies embrace and reflect these changes. It is through this understanding and mode of practice that the Bundaberg Region Art Gallery will undertake one of its most challenging and broad curatorial projects. This project, Pacific Storms will bring to regional Queensland an exhibition that aims to challenge perceptions and question our understanding of Australians closest neighbors, the Pacific Islands. Rarely does the smallest island in Tonga or Tuvalu have significant collaboration or engagement with the regional hub of Bundaberg. However over the past 18 months these and many other Pacific Island counties have been forging closer affiliation with the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. Co-curating with Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery – Pacific Curator, Joycelin Leahy will bring together artists from ten Pacific Island countries to an exhibition that questions the present, highlights the now and draws viewers’ attention to what lies under leis, sunshine and the stereotype view of Pacific Islands as underdeveloped and creators of predominantly primitive art. Through this unique perspective, display and interpretation of Pacific art it is also hoped that this exhibition will provide and opportunity for Australians to develop a better understanding of Pacific nations and their cultures. Within this context the exhibition will showcase over 50 artworks by leading Pacific artists as never before been shown in any Australian Regional, State or National art galleries.
Crossing international borders and time differences co-curators Joycelin Leahy and Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery’s Exhibitions Officer, Bianca Acimovic recently caught up and talk about some of the finer points of the exhibition. Just over 18 months ago Joycelin and Bianca began discussing the representation and display of Pacific artists, with Joycelin’s involvement and experience in the Pacific art, combined with Bianca’s community engagement and grassroots approach to curatorial practice, Pacific Storms embarks on a journey that will bring to Australian shores a ‘new thinking’ and approach to Pacific contemporary arts. Through the unique curatorial approach of Pacific Storms, this exhibition and its associated programs strives not to stereotype Pacific arts, but aims to capture the viewer and draw attention to Pacific culture in the contemporary sense as seen through the eyes of Pacific artists.
“We want Australia and the world to see our art from a different perspective. Our traditional heritage and customs remain within us and can be interpreted through our values and our sense of place. But our drive and passion for how the changes are affecting us is very strong” Ms. Leahy continued, “We are also the children of the now generation and we are affected by global changes. We have views and we are concern about what is happening in our societies. Global issues are our local problems. In the past, Pacific contemporary art has been viewed largely as a style drawn from traditional legends, tribal markings, national identities, and ancestral heritage.” The exploration of contemporary issues in this exhibition will introduce a new art style where Pacific artists are conscientious of their local issues and through their contribution, they are documenting major social and environmental concerns of the Pacific people. In response, Co-curator Ms Acimovic said, “While this exhibition intends on presenting current social and environmental concerns of the Pacific region, this region is unmistakably intertwined into the Australian east coast, as such the concerns of the Pacific people are not unlike the concerns of all Australasian.”
In addition to the exhibitions international significance, the region of Bundaberg has a long and rich history with the Pacific nations, with many of the Pacific countries forming the diverse labor force that established Bundaberg and the surrounding Queensland east coast. Acimovic said: “Launching this exhibition in Bundaberg is a means of our contemporary societies acknowledging the significant influence that the Pacific nations have had on the Bundaberg region. This exhibition is an opportunity to rebuild relationships, affiliation and collaborations of contemporary Australians and Pacific people”. In upholding this desire to instigate, reaffirmed and enforce theses relationships, Pacific Storms is engaging with a diversity of community organisations including the Bundaberg House of Prayer and United Pacific Islanders of the Wide Bay. Pacific Storms is an inclusive community initiative that will bring together artists and community to share on current concerns.
Pacific Storms will be exhibited at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery from the 3 June until 12 July 2009
(Contact Joycelin Leahy for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org)