The launch of an entirely new Gallery building is an important event anywhere in the world. Queensland's new Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is open from 1 December 2006, and this date is of great importance for Australians interested in Asian art, particularly contemporary Asian art. The new building, sited next to the existing Art Gallery on Brisbane's South Bank, will not only open with the bang that is always associated with the Queensland's Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (the fifth in the series which began in 1993), but will also provides new premises for the state's Australian Centre for Asia-Pacific Art (ACAPA), established in 2002. The Gallery's existing building has been refurbished and the whole collection has been rehung.
At this exciting time for the visual arts in Queensland, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the Queensland Gallery's long-serving Director, Doug Hall, who announced his resignation from the position (effective April 2007) just as this issue of the Review was going to press. Doug Hall was a major force in support of both the Asia Pacific Triennial and the new gallery project - it is certainly said that neither initiative would have come to fruition without his energies. In the lead article in this issue, Suhanya Raffel, head of Asian and Pacific Art in Queensland, provides a thoughtful preview of APT5, focusing on four of the artists from the Asian region involved this year. Then architectural consultant Louise Noble provides an analysis of the new GoMA building itself.
No arts organisation can exist, of course, without the constant imagination, persistence and sheer hard work of Gallery directors, curators, researchers and managers. Jackie Menzies, head curator of Asian art at the New South Wales gallery, in this issue reveals something of the mammoth effort it takes to originate an exhibition such as Goddess: Divine Energy, currently showing. Assembling an exhibition of important and rare works on this scale is becoming an increasingly difficult and expensive proposition these days - especially for Australian galleries because of their distance from world art centres, dwindling governmental arts budgets at all levels and the progressively more stringent (and expensive) security and insurance requirements post 9/11.
Post 9/11, however, it is even more important to understand our neighbours. In September this year, a Lowy Institute poll revealed that a majority of Australians thought it was essential that Australia and Indonesia work together to build a closer relationship (even though another, unrelated, poll showed at the same time that the average Australian had scant knowledge of the average Indonesian, and vice versa). However, a consistent interest in our near north by the TAASA membership is in fact apparent from the Index to all published issues of TAASA Review since 1991. In the current issue we hope to add a little more to that knowledge, with six articles on various aspects of Indonesian and Timorese culture. These range from Adrian Vickers on unearthing a fascinating 'Balinese modern' painting from the late 1930s, to Maria Friend on that elusive Javanese goddess Ratu Kidul; from articles on the textiles of East and West Timor, to James Bennett on the powerful Wilmana carving recently acquired by he Art Gallery of South Australia.
South Australia is building a significant collection of art from Indonesia. The National Gallery of Australia of course already has a collection of Indonesian textiles of world significance. Moreover, in October this year the NGA announced the purchase (for the sum of A$4 million) of a unique small bronze statuette of a weaver attributed to Indonesia (see back cover). This sculpture is unique firstly because of its subject -- a woman nursing a baby while she weaves on a backstrap loom - and secondly because thermoluminescence tests date it to the late sixth century CE. TAASA members were privileged to hear curator Robyn Maxwell talk about this special piece in Sydney during November.
Speaking of opinion polls: one in March 2006 by the University of NSW revealed, rather alarmingly, that only one in six Australians claimed to have any reasonable knowledge of Islam and its followers. The next issue of TAASA Review (Vol.16/1, March 2007) has been some time in the planning but we hope it might provide a tiny bit of encouragement here. It will focus on the arts of Islam, with guest editor Susan Scollay.
3 ENERGY AND BREADTH: THE FIFTH ASIA-PACIFIC TRIENNIAL - Suhanya Raffel, with Zoe Butt and Jose de Silva
7 RADICAL PRAGMATISM: QUEENSLAND’S NEW GOMA - Louise Noble
8 BALINESE ART AND THE STRUGGLE TO BE MODERN - Adrian Vickers
10 IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: WILMANA, THE WINGED DEMON - James Bennett
11 A WEALTH OF CHOICE IN WEST TIMOR - Ruth Hadlow
12 SUPPORTING THE WOMEN WEAVERS OF EAST TIMOR - Alix Mandelson
13 EXHIBITION: IKAT, TEXTILE OF THE CLOUD - Carol Cains
14 KANJENG RATU KIDUL, THE ELUSIVE GODDESS OF JAVA - Maria Friend
16 GATHERING GODDESSES - Jackie Menzies
18 RITUAL OBJECTS OF A TANTRIC YOGI - Jenny Templin
20 KOREAN TEA FOR MEDITATION - Hansoon Sohn-Craigie
22 REPORT: SHANGHAI SHOWCASE - Jenny Banks
23 POSTSCRIPT: KALIGHAT’S MISSIONARIES - Kate Brittlebank
24 WHAT’S ON IN AUSTRALIA: DECEMBER 2006–FEBRUARY 2007 Compiled by Tina Burge
25 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY DECEMBER 2006 – FEBRUARY 2007
26 TAASA REPORTS