Patrick from Sudan invites me to ‘Come and see what we’ve been doing.’ Young refugees, from over 20 ethnic backgrounds, have explored their experiences of coming to, and settling in, New Zealand through, ‘writing, film, photography and all kinds of artwork.’ I accept Patrick’s invitation and enter the Mixing Room on the fourth floor of … Continue reading ‘AND STILL I RISE’: Young refugees rap at Te Papa
When I worked at the V&A museum of art and design in London, people talked of objects with the WOW factor. The blue and sea green chandelier by Chihuly, with its entwined glass tentacles, was one of them. It hangs pride of place in the V&A’s main lobby in South Kensington. The giant squid at … Continue reading Refused entry at Te Papa Tongarewa
The rain persists so, instead of going west down the coastline, we head for Auckland Museum. “You can compare the displays of Māori culture with Te Papa, “ Tess suggests. “They have a more traditional approach here than in Wellington.” But we get sidetracked. There is a touring exhibition from the Museum of Wearable Art. … Continue reading Wearable Art, Waitangi Treaty and a Wellington Welcome
On a grey rainy day I take a cab from Auckland airport to where my friend, Tess, is having her works Christmas lunch. Crackers, Christmas hats, rubbery turkey and office gossip. I could be in London. But then Tess drives me to the highest point of the city and we look out over the ocean. Mountains … Continue reading Falling in Love with Pohutukawa over Christmas
I walk along City Road, across the river and towards the restored Old Customs House, now the Museum of Immigration. It’s easy to find. Large banners advertising Identity, Yours, Mine, Ours, with portraits of men and women representing multiracial Australia, hang over the elegant façade. Identity, Yours, Mine, Ours is the title of the much-praised … Continue reading Multiculturalism under the microscope in Melbourne Museums (2) – the Immigration Museum or If I was white
I walk up the hill, away from the graffiti and loathsome cakes on Acland street in St Kilda, to the Jewish Museum of Australia. Most people are here on a rainy Sunday afternoon for the exhibition of Warhol’s Jewish Geniuses. I head, instead, to the back of the building, ignoring the Judaica too. I want … Continue reading Multiculturalism under the microscope in Melbourne Museums – Mark 1
I arrive at 598 City Road. I should have guessed, by the high number, that my accommodation wouldn’t be that close to the city. I ring the bell. No answer. I look around. An empty petrol station. Low rise warehouses with few signs of life. Tower blocks in the distance. A car pulls up. … Continue reading From Melbourne to the Moon
The origin of the name ‘Canberra’, the capital of Australia, is disputed. Is it from the Indigenous name for the hollow between a woman's breasts, the hollow being likened to the floodplain between Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain. Or is it, according to a more European version, from the Australian 'cranberry'? Two competing versions, two … Continue reading Canberra – heritage hole or cultural oasis?
At the door of the Migration Museum in Adelaide there is a dedication to the Kaurna people, ‘the original occupants of the site, who were disposed of their homelands by British settlers.’ Inside are a series of paintings by an artist of Aboriginal descent, Darryl Pfitzner Milika. A painting of a sole Aboriginal person about … Continue reading Settler or migrant, colonisation or invasion?
“A friend from Sydney told me 2 days in Adelaide would be enough,” I tell my airbnb host as we sip coffee in her semi-detached 1880s bungalow. “Your friend’s a snob,” says Melanie, a New Zealander, who’s made the capital of South Australia her home “It may have been true ten years ago, “ she … Continue reading Up for Adelaide