Master of Creative Arts
Faculty of Creative Arts
Kay, Catherine, Encounters in Vanuatu: processes and interactions in visual arts, MCA thesis, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, 2009. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4055
The Master of Creative Arts Research investigates cross-cultural interactions with Vanuatu between 2003 and 2008. Several fieldtrips to the island of Efate the main island, site of the capital Port Vila enabled meetings with the visual art milieu of craftspeople, artists, the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and Museum, the two Art Foundations Michoutouchkine and Susanne Bastien, as well as commercial outlets. It confirmed my interest in setting up conversations between my own art practice in Australia with individual artists in Vanuatu through two conferences, firstly the Pacific Arts Association IXth International Symposium Musée du quay Branly in 2007 in Paris and secondly, the Pacific International Museum Association in Port Vila in 2008.
My research, which includes two exhibitions, presents a working strategy based in artistic process for developing an on-going dialogue between artists from the Pacific and non-Indigenous Australian culture. Core concerns for island communities such those in Vanuatu include an understanding of the multiplicity within island cultures, a developing relationship between genders and a situation of constant change and development in relation to dominant external influences. My research built on insights from recent exhibitions by indigenous and non-indigenous artists and curators, which included work from, mixed cultural backgrounds such as Weaving the Murray (Art Gallery of South Australia and Prospect Gallery, Adelaide 2002), News from Islands (Campbelltown Art Centre 2007), and Woven forms (Object Gallery, Sydney and Form Gallery, Perth 2006).
My collaborative research and exhibition document my encounter with two ni-Vanuatu artist/craftspeople Eric and Linda Natuoivi. Eric Natuoivi was already acknowledged as a leading Pacific artist through his involvement in the Asia Pacific Triennial of 1996, while his wife Linda is a highly regarded weaver within her community, but unknown outside Vanuatu. Key issues that emerge are the interactions between artists and between artists and audience; the power relations between cultures and institutions, and facilitating the needs of artists from very different cultural situations.
The exhibition Encounters in Vanuatu (FCA gallery 2009) documents the processes of these interactions as well as presenting important examples of Eric and Linda Natuoivi’s works. My artwork, in the adaptation of plaited structures and photographs, reflects the transformation that occurred as a result of being a catalyst between two worlds. Digital images and short films address the complexities of reading artworks outside their context of production, and in the artificial reality of the gallery space. This essay proposes a model for cross cultural interaction and highlights the significance of artistic, intellectual and economic benefits for artists engaged in cross-cultural events.