A major touring exhibition in which 300 leading Australian Artists salute
and honour the diversity of our land and culture. The exhibition is a
showcase of contemporary Australia and Australian Art.
This exhibition ...is not only an
important and timely expression of our harmony in diversity, but is also a
colourful expression of what we are today
Rt Hon Sir Zelman Cowen
Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1977-1982.
We Are Australian visits Sydney May 15 to June 3, 2000 at the Volvo Gallery,
cnr York and Barrack Street.The Exhibition then moves to the Adelaide
Festival Centre where it will be hosted from August 17 to October 2, 2000.
The exhibition is featured online at www.visualartforum.com as a series of
monthly exhibitions on specific themes on Contemporary Australia.
Writing about Australia in the Sixties, Donald Horne called his book The
Lucky Country. How right he was . People from all over the world, with our
original inhabitants, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have
gathered here to creat a culture so full of ethnic variety and richness that
it is without parallel. Together, we are uniquely Australian. Yet, within
this mixture of languages, beliefs, styles, creations, and customs, each
retains its own individuality.
The idea for the exhibition came from Geoff La Gerche, born out of concern
over the divisiveness being sown by a pathetic but vociferous few. It was
time, he reasoned, for Australian artists to show their hands and state
their opposition to racism, and to affirm their unity in diversity.
Young and old, emerging and established artists, all of very diverse
backgrounds, were selected and invited by their fellow artists.
Among the big names and the small there was to be an equaliser - each work
was to be of the same size, if not format - a panel of thirty by forty
centimetres being given to each participant. Create what they will - paint
on it or draw, cut into it, around it, or stick onto it - each artist was
working on a level playing field. Moreover, by keeping each work to the
same size, this in itself became a metaphor for unity in diversity. The
conditions of entry were also direct and meaningful. Artists had to be
Australian citizens or residents of Australia; and thier entered work was to
celebrate Australias cultural diversity.
The response was enormous, spontaneous and enthusiastic. It was a humbling
and yet sustaining experience which, within itself, proclaimed the success
of the venture. Nonagenarian Louis Kahan, born in Vienna in 1905, and
Octogenarian David Dallwitz, born in 1914 in Freeling. South Australia,
joined with other artists born in Melbourne and Sydney two decades ago. A
short roll call of some of the major artists includes Rick Amor, Davida
Allen, Karen Casey, Judy Cassab, Peter Clarke, Aleks Danko, and John Davis,
through John Firth-Smith, Deborah Halpern, Robert Jacks, Inge King, and
Colin Lanceley, to Jan Senbergs, Wendy Stavrianos, Jenny Watson and John
Painter and international fashion designer, Pru Acton, pointedly titled her
landscape, The land shapes us, the land colours our imagination, the land
marks our experience. By contrast, Italian born Wilma Tabacco painted a
curvaceous yet strikingly blunt word wog across her board. Its joint
meaning is its message; a statement of fact. As a child, she was taunted
with the word. Now she reclaims the word as a more sensitive statement, for
nowadays it is not derogatory, when used within a community; only when used
outside. Tabacco saw the exhibition as being as good moment for alerting the
public to the issue.
David Thomas - Curator
The Land Shapes Us The Land Colours Our
Imagination The Land Marks Our Experience