Australian museum collections of Oceanic art and local community programmes increasingly emphasize continuity between the customary’ and contemporary’ but the latter enjoys minimal exposure in public art galleries outside Queensland and Victoria. It took four decades for the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) to seriously implement one of its foundational policies prioritizing art from Southern and Eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands’ (National Art Gallery Committee of Inquiry 1966), announcing in 2008 the full revival’ of its large Pacific collection (Radford, cited in Howarth 2008: 3), albeit with few contemporary exhibits. Meanwhile, among Australian state galleries, only QAG/GoMA has appointed a Contemporary Pacific Art curator and recently increased through donation and acquisition its collection of Pacific textiles and Melanesian art. Pacific classification is complicated by curatorial silos’ where a dedicated New Zealand/Pacific Island focus out there’ excludes the Australian and/or Australian Indigenous Pacific. This was evident in QAG/GoMA’s otherwise collaborative exhibition Land, Sea and Sky: Contemporary art of the Torres Strait Islands (Queensland Art Gallery 2011) where there was no Contemporary Pacific Art perspective alongside contributions from Australian Indigenous Art and Australian Art staff, and external writers. As in New Zealand, institutional sensitivities may require separate Indigenous and Pacific categorization but many artists work between and against these constrictive boundaries.
In 2006 over twenty local Indigenous and Pacific Australian artists protested against such APT representation in an exhibition titled The Other APT, a multi-artform exhibition encouraging fluid, alterNative’ collaborations between artists from Pacific, Indigenous and Asian heritage. Curated by Murri artist, Jenny Fraser, in 2008 it toured to Noumea’s Tjibaou Cultural Centre in 2008 and the (online) Biennale of Sydney; it continues online at cyberTribe. Here Fraser (2006: n.p.n.) discussed crossovers between islander and Australian indigenous cultures:
[T]hroughout the Asia-Pacific Region Aboriginal people are known, respected and still referred to as the Old People of the Pacific [and] [i]t’s not as if Aboriginal people and neighbouring groups haven’t shared an Ocean or had contact with each other that could provide the basis of an art dialogue.
Indigenous curator, Djon Mundine affirmed this exhibition’s role in finding a space for the Asian and Pacific within us; those local Australian societies of Asian and Pacific heritage who have had a long and deep relationship with our national identity; though often folded/ secreted within’ (2007: n.p.n.). Meanwhile, QAG/GoMA’s Pacific homepage declares its particular focus on contemporary works from New Zealand by significant Maori and Pacific Islander artists’ (Page 2011: n.p.n.). With 14 of 17 image links to this collection by New Zealand artists of Polynesian Maori and Pakeha extraction, and most other Pacific images not available’, only an exotic’ Polynesian New Zealand is visible.
Continue over the junction, using the path following the same Sydney Map Tourist Attractions direction you have been following, that is, just east of south. Very shortly beyond, Sydney Map Tourist Attractions a path forks left, and you need to take this left fork. The signposting is not brilliant, but the fact is that the track going straight ahead is not a public path and could cruelly take you miles off course – ironically to an area of tumuli known as the Devil’s Humps. After you have gone so far out of your way, you may feel that the Devil might not be the only one to have the hump