While this first issue for 2020 has no particular theme, a strong common thread is nevertheless evident: many of the articles are enlivened by the personal experiences or observations of the author.
In our lead article, Judith Snodgrass tells the intriguing story of a ‘missing’ spectacular Meiji period cloissoné vase – a vase that she had long been interested in - which was finally located in 2019 in a sea food restaurant in California and easily identified by her when consulted by the auction house to whom this piece had been consigned.
Charlotte Galloway introduces us to Veronica Gritsenko, whose workshop in Bagan, Myanmar produces internationally recognised high-quality, innovative lacquerware. Charlotte had known of Veronica’s Black Elephant Studio for many years but was only able to pay a visit in 2019. Through sheer determination, technical know-how and design flair, Veronica has established a business which is contributing to sustaining a threatened traditional craft.
There are other ways in which traditional craft can be reinvented so that their specific cultural context is retained and honoured whilst establishing a wider contemporary audience. Anne Brennan’s musings about her own kokeshi collection were reignited when she visited the Design Museum Helsinki’s summer exhibition Secret Universe in July 2019, a survey of the work of Finnish design house COMPANY. They have been exploring diverse folk-art traditions, including Japanese kokeshi, creating modern products after spending time with craftspeople, observing them at work and responding to how and what they make. In doing so, Anne observes that they are opening up new possibilities and meanings for the universal activity of handmaking.
It is heartening though to read about a traditional business that has remained firmly unchanged. Carol Liston leads us to a tiny shop set in a formal traditional garden, through an almost invisible door off an arcade in central Kyoto. Handmade sewing needles have been produced at this site for 350 years, supplying the Imperial Court with the needles for making court garments. Carol’s explanation of why these needles are so superior is eye opening.
As with most TAASA Review issues, we cover some current exhibitions. In One Drop of Water is on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, its first rotation of sensitive works having occurred in December 2019. For her article, curator Natalie Seiz focuses on two artists to illustrate this exhibition’s concerns: the stories, myths, social and environmental issues based around water as an intrinsic part of life. A second rotation of works in the exhibition will take place in June 2020.
Newly on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra are the works of Sydney-based artist Dacchi Dang, commissioned to respond to the stories of South Vietnamese veterans who migrated to Australia - an important though less well represented aspect of Australia’s history of this conflict. Curator Anthea Gunn shares her insights on why the works were commissioned and the artist’s creative processes.
Readers may recall that the June 2018 issue of the TAASA Review covered an exhibition Edo style: Japanese art from the Art Gallery of South Australia Collection at the David Roche Foundation in Adelaide. On permanent display in David Roche’s residence, Fermoy House, is his collection of late 18th to mid-19th centuries decorative and fine arts including a diverse range of Chinese and Chinoiserie objects. These are the focus of Jennifer Harris’ article, one notable example being the Chinese-inspired bathroom with its richly coloured Scalamandré ‘Shanghai’ wallpaper.
Family connection is also the concern of Sorayya Mahmoud Martin’s article on her collection of Malay jewellery, recently displayed in AGSA’s exhibition No god but God: Art of Islam. As the author points out, the importance of these pieces goes beyond their value and even their intrinsic beauty: they are also a vital part of her history and culture, inherited through generations of women in her family.
Personal adornment which speaks to cultural identity is further explored by Marianne Hulsbosch in our final article. She discusses how the sober white collar worn by Christianized Ambonese women after Dutch colonization evolved to the more richly decorated collar worn for Confirmation and wedding ceremonies in the early 20th century - a transformation which represents a creative merging of their own cultural traditions with their new Christian Ambonese identity.
For this issue’s book review, we are very pleased to have a contribution from John Clark on a recent publication Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context by Shen Jiawei, a Chinese Australian oil painter of historical themes and portraits. We benefit both from John Clark’s depth of knowledge and his personal association with the author. Finally, in Traveller’s Choice, Chris Manning and Bev Dunbar introduce us to the spectacular new National Museum of Qatar.
3 EDITORIAL - Josefa Green, Editor
4 DISCOVERING A MISSING MASTERPIECE OF MEIJI CLOISONNE - Judith Snodgrass
7 MYANMAR LACQUER – VERONICA GRITSENKO AND BLACK ELEPHANT STUDIO, BAGAN - Charlotte Galloway
10 BROTHERS IN ARMS: DACCHI DANG COMMISSION AT THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL - Anthea Gunn
12 SECRET UNIVERSE: COMPANY’S COLLABORATION WITH KOKESHI MAKERS - Anne Brennan
14 IN ONE DROP OF WATER AT THE ART GALLERY OF NSW - Natalie Seiz
16 ‘A NEEDLE IS A SMALL BLADE. THE IRON IS FORGED LIKE A SWORD’: A NEEDLE SHOP IN KYOTO - Carol Liston with Judith Snodgrass
18 ASIAN ART AND CHINOISERIE AT THE DAVID ROCHE FOUNDATION HOUSE MUSEUM, ADELAIDE - Jennifer Harris
20 FAMILY AND TRADITION: A MALAY JEWELLERY COLLECTION AT AGSA - Sorayya Mahmood Martin
22 MERGING IDENTITIES: THE AMBONESE COLLAR - Marianne Hulsbosch
24 BOOK REVIEW: PAINTING HISTORY: CHINA’S REVOLUTION IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT - John Clark
25 TRAVELLER'S CHOICE: THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR - Chris Manning & Bev Dunbar
26 TAASA MEMBERS' DIARY: MARCH - MAY 2020
27 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
28 THE BUSHFIRES AND STEVE HARRISON, POTTER - Josefa Green
28 COL DRAPER 1949 - 2020
29 WHAT'S ON: MARCH - MAY 2020