This is the last TAASA Review for 2012, and it is again a general issue offering a range of articles which will hopefully be of interest to our members and which demonstrates the richness of our Asian cultural resources here in Australia.
Two major exhibitions have just or are about to open. In Brisbane, the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7) celebrates the 20th anniversary of this influential, trail blazing event which takes over the entire Gallery of Modern Art and much of the Queensland Art Gallery until April 2013. In this issue, Russell Storer provides an insight into the key ideas driving APT7 and takes us through some of the main works which will be on show.
On show only in Sydney at the Australian Museum is Alexander the Great: 2000 years of treasures, a major exhibition from the State Hermitage, St Petersburg. Some 400 objects of both Asian and European origins illustrate aspects of Alexander’s life and legacy. Elizabeth Cowell from the Australian Museum provides an overview of the themes explored by this exhibition. It is worth noting that a large program of events, including a series of most interesting talks, will be held in conjunction with this exhibition (see What’s On for website address).
In our recent TAASA questionnaire, which many members have helpfully completed, a strong and abiding interest in Central Asia and topics related to the silk road(s) was evident. This issue has quite a strong “inner Asian” focus.
In Bingzhou: Gateway to the Splendid Tang, Yin Cao’s theme is the vibrant interchange of culture between China and the large regions to its west in the period leading up to the great Tang empire. Many people believe that Chang’an (modern day Xi’an) was the eastern terminus of the silk road(s) from the Han to the Tang periods. Rather, Yin Cao demonstrates that in the many hundreds of years between these two great Chinese empires, it was Pingcheng in Bingzhou (modern day Datong in Shanxi province), which served as the eastern end of the major highways connecting China and the west.
Lyndon Arden-Wong takes us further west in his scholarly article Monumental Stone Sculptures of the Central-Eastern Steppes. Based on his PhD research and current archaeological work on the Mongolian plateau, Lyndon describes the style, iconography and usage of these large anthropomorphic Türkic monuments dating from the 6th to mid 8th centuries. The theme of cross cultural influence in this vast complex region is taken up again in this article, which describes the impact of Sogdian and Tang influences on these sculptures, which were in turn significantly modified by the Uighurs in the post Türkic era.
We explore the inner Asian region with two further articles. Our regular In the Public Domain features a spectacular collection of rugs and trappings woven by the women of the Yomut Turkmen nomadic group, recently donated to the Powerhouse Museum. Christina Sumner manages in a relatively short space to provide a highly informative account of the history of the Turkmen and their remarkable weavings.
A personal account of the region is offered by Margaret White, a new member of TAASA’s Management Committee (see p25 for her profile). In Travellers’ Choice, she describes her experiences while on a study tour of Turkmenistan with Friends of the Museums, Singapore in 2011, highlighting their visit to the late Bronze age archaeological site of Gonur Depe.
To vary the diet, this issue offers a number of articles on completely different topics. Chiaki Ajioka’s article, Colour Woodcut International on modern printmaking in Japan and the west, is a thoughtful follow up of the lecture she gave at the joint AGNSW/TAASA Made in Japan symposium on 4 August, held in association with the AGNSW’s exhibition Kamisaka Sekka: dawn of modern Japanese design.
To cater for our many ceramics enthusiasts, Philip Courtenay has written a piece on Thai bencharong wares, which, as he points out, are perhaps less well known than the historic ceramics of central and northern Thailand. These colourful and elaborately decorated ceramics, somewhat akin to Chinese export ware, were produced primarily for utilitarian purposes. They are most likely to have been introduced in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, manufactured at the Jingdezhen kilns in China according to Thai requirements. Finally, Judith Rutherford lends her deep expertise to a review of a very handsome new publication Chinese Silks, issue by Yale University Press.
By the time this December issue is distributed, many TAASA members will have enjoyed our end of year Party held this year at Sydney’s Gallery 4A. Best wishes for the festive season from TAASA!
Josefa Green, Editor
4 BINGZHOU: GATEWAY TO THE SPLENDID TANG
7 MONUMENTAL STONE SCULPTURES OF THE CENTRAL-EASTERN STEPPES
11 ALEXANDER THE GREAT: 2000 YEARS OF TREASURES AT THE AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM
13 BENCHARONG — THAILAND'S FIVE-COLOUR CERAMICS
16 COLOUR WOOD CUT INTERNATIONAL : MODERN PRINTMAKING IN JAPAN AND THE WEST
19 IN THE PUBLI C DOMAI N: YOMUT TURKMEN RUGS AND TRAPPINGS AT THE POWERHOUSE
20 THE 7TH ASIA PACIFIC TRIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY ART
23 TRAVELLERS’ CHOICE: RECOVERING TURKMENISTAN’S BURIED PAST
24 BOOK REVIEW: CHINESE SILKS
25 TAASA PROFILES
25 TAASA Members’ Diary: DECEMBER 2012 - FEBRUARY 2013
26 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
27 WHAT’S ON IN AUSTRALIA : DECEMBER 2012 - FEBRUARY 2013
Compiled by Tina Burge