This June issue of the TAASA Review is particularly special because it celebrates TAASA’s 30th anniversary.
Some members will recall the bumper 2011 TAASA Review issue which celebrated 20 years of TAASA. It gave considerable attention to TAASA’s history – how it began and who was involved – and acknowledged the many who have contributed to TAASA’s success over its first 20 years.
Ten years on, President Jackie Menzies’ introduction to the June 2021 issue reflects on the depth and breadth of content covered by TAASA over time, both through the TAASA Review and its activities, and notes how this aims to present and celebrate changing concerns and interests – trends such as the growing influence of China and the impact of new museums in Southeast Asia. Christina Sumner and my article reviews the impressive range of events organised by TAASA over the last 10 years.
Our theme for this issue, ‘Engaging with Asia’, is forward looking, recognising that TAASA’s goal - of creating a deeper understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures - is more important than ever given the current strains in our region. Other positive initiatives are at play, such as the new network to promote Asian art research - The Australasian Network for Asian Art (an4aa.org) - discussed by Claire Roberts and Chaitanya Sambrani in this issue.
We explore how the nature of the Asian-Australian relationship has been fundamentally changing, particularly over the last 10 years. Carol Cains and Melanie Eastburn discuss this in the curatorial context, arguing that a collaborative approach to exhibitions and art events is increasingly the norm, an approach which foregrounds the voice of artists and creator communities and in-country specialists in project development.
Liz Williamson’s account of the Cultural Textiles Fieldwork course she developed and ran over eight years, also illustrates the changing engagement with Asia. It offered social impact and global engagement experience for UNSW Art & Design students through an intensive three week program taught initially in Gujarat and then West Bengal. It had significant impact on both students and artisan communities, introducing a new vitality to artisans who met the student groups. It should, she believes, be considered as a model for further engagements.
Annette Shun Wah discusses the way in which a new generation of Australian artistic directors and programmers have shifted their focus towards the region for their inspiration rather than Europe or America. That this source of inspiration is not entirely new is demonstrated by our book review of Exporting Japanese Aesthetics by Peter Shaw which explores the international impact of Japanese culture and aesthetics from the early modern period until the present.
Annette Shun Wah argues that showcasing Australian artists of Asian backgrounds - the very people who embody the engagement of Asia and Australia – offers unique and dynamic ways in which to navigate the complex issues of our time. Samantha Littley also touches on what it means to straddle more than one culture as an Asian Australian in her interview with Thai-Australian ceramicist Vipoo Srivilasa. They touch on his experience as an artist ‘living between the culture that I grew up in and the culture in which I now live’.
Australian engagement with Asia has often taken the form of professionals working in Asia, as demonstrated by Amit Srivastava’s survey of Australian architects. His focus is on Kerry Hill who over four decades from the 1970’s designed numerous projects in Asia, including the notable tourist lodges he built for Aman Resorts across the Kingdom of Bhutan.
The enthusiastic collecting of Asian art has always been a vibrant aspect of Australian engagement with Asia. Min-Jung Kim covers Gene Sherman’s extraordinary donation of contemporary Japanese fashion to the Powerhouse Museum, while Damian Smith explains the importance of Geoff Raby’s donation to Melbourne’s La Trobe University - a unique survey of Chinese contemporary artworks acquired by a single individual.
Cultural links can enhance collecting as John Cruthers shows in his profile of Konfir Kabo who has set himself the mission of bringing his two countries, Indonesia and Australia, closer together through art. His activities go beyond collecting to staging exhibitions and public programs. Katrina Cashman and Siobhan Campbell emphasise the personal passion which John Yu has brought to bear in amassing his Southeast Asian collection over a lifetime: a ‘form of personal ritual’ driven by his love for the region, its people and culture. It will soon be on show at Mosman Art Gallery.
TAASA’s AGM occurred on 24 May after this issue was finalised. In the next issue we will report on this event and the new members of the TAASA Committee who will be carrying on the work of TAASA.
3 EDITORIAL: 30 YEARS OF TAASA - Josefa Green, Editor
4 30 YEARS OF TAASA: EXPANDING ENGAGEMENTS - Jackie Menzies
5 WHAT TAASA DID: 2012 - 2020 - Christina Sumner and Josefa Green
7 EXHIBITING ASIAN ART IN AUSTRALIA: 10 YEARS ON - Carol Cains and Melanie Eastburn
9 GENE SHERMAN COLLECTION: CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE FASHION AT THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM, SYDNEY - Min-Jung Kim
10 UPACARA: DR JOHN YU’S COLLECTION OF CEREMONIAL ART FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA AT MOSMAN ART GALLERY - Katrina Cashman and Siobhan Campbell
12 CULTURAL TEXTILES: EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION AND TRANSFORMATION - Liz Williamson
15 CROSSING CULTURES: AN INTERVIEW WITH CERAMIC ARTIST VIPOO SRIVILASA - Samantha Littley
16 ARCHITECTURE AS CULTURAL PRACTICE: AUSTRALIAN ARCHITECTS IN ASIA - Amit Srivastava
18 PERFORMANCE: THE KEY TO RESILIENCE IN ASIA-AUSTRALIA ENGAGEMENT - Annette Shun Wah
20 THE GEOFF RABY COLLECTION OF CHINESE ART AT LA TROBE UNIVERSITY - Damian Smith
22 BOOK REVIEW: EXPORTING JAPANESE AESTHETICS - Peter Shaw
24 KONFIR KABO: COLLECTING INDONESIAN ART - John Cruthers
26 A NEW NETWORK TO PROMOTE ASIAN ART RESEARCH - Claire Roberts and Chaitanya Sambrani
27 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
29 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: JUNE – AUGUST 2021
30 WHAT’S ON: JUNE – AUGUST 2021