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Exploring Contemporary Commonwealth Culture



January 2006


Exploring Contemporary Commonwealth Culture

Exquisitely decorated fantasy coffins from Ghana, contemporary miniature works from South Asia and a selection of power cloths worn by key figures in the nations of the Commonwealth will be shown in an exhibitions program that explores the diverse contemporary cultures of the Commonwealth.

Part of Festival Melbourne2006, the cultural festival of the Melbourne2006 Commonwealth Games, the exhibitions program offers an insight into a range of contemporary applications of traditional artforms and sees artists from Australia and around the Commonwealth offer insights into our shared contemporary cultures.  Each of the exhibitions is free of entry charge during the period of the Games.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the National Gallery of Victoria at NGV Australia in Federation Square will present a major new collaboration, 2006 Contemporary Commonwealth.  The exhibition explores the globalised nature of cultural and social connection, juxtaposing 11 artists from the vast range of Commonwealth nations with 11 artists from Australia.  It takes as its starting point the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games catch-cry, United by the Moment, and explores associated topographies and traditions through narrative, documentary, cartography and new media. 
2006 Contemporary Commonwealth, 24 February to 21 May, ACMI and NGV Australia.

Melbourne Museum will host a series of exhibitions – Spirit of the Games will display a selection of costumes from the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony as well as behind the scenes stories and the making of the ceremony’s icons – just 48 hours after the ceremony on 15 March.  
Spirit of the Games, 18 March to July, Melbourne Museum.

Carve, also at Melbourne Museum, brings together artists from Canada, New Zealand and Australia, to examine contemporary practices of traditional indigenous carving. Artists include Canadian First Nations master carver Wayne Alfred, who will carve a 10 foot interior totem pole, Maori carver Aaron Te Whanatangi Kereopa, who uses surfboard foam blanks as a medium, Tiwi artist Patrick ‘Freddy’ Puruntatameri, who will carve pukumani poles and local Victorian artists, Bangaran elder Sandy Atkinson and Gunai elder Albert Mullet demonstrating dug-out canoe making.

Carve, 16 – 25 March, Melbourne Museum.

Craft Victoria’s Common Goods, also displayed at Melbourne Museum, will include work by eight visiting artists from Commonwealth countries, who will each be working collaboratively with local artists in residencies throughout Victoria.  Craft skills comprise coloured telephone wire weaving from South Africa, carving from Mauritius, lace-making from Malta, rope-making from the Maldives, barrel-painting from Sri Lanka, darning from India, kilt-making from Samoa and flax weaving from New Zealand.  This exhibition captures the spirit of hospitality as people from around the world share their cultural differences. 

Common Goods, 22 February – 31 March, Melbourne Museum.

Game On!: Sport and Contemporary Art is a major new exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, whereby international and Australian artists explore ideas related to territory and allegiance – fan behaviour, playing fields and public and private behaviour.  Artists include Roderick Buchanan (Scotland), Jon Campbell (Australia), Matthew Greentree (Australia) and Richard Lewer (New Zealand).

Game On! Sport and Contemporary Art, 28 January – 23 April, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne University.

Melbourne’s renowned Australian Centre for Contemporary Art will present NEW06, its annual showcase of outstanding young Australian artists, and Plus Factors, a playful program of artful activity around Melbourne’s CBD.  New06 and Plus Factors, 13 March – 15 May, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

Single Currency, at the Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, reflects on the ubiquitous notion of ‘identity’ in a darkly humorous exhibition from twelve Australian and New Zealand artists.
Single Currency, 2-26 March, Victorian College of the Arts Gallery.

The short animated films of renowned South African artist William Kentridge will be presented together for the first time in Australia, accompanied by a live performance of composer Philip Miller’s evocative original soundtrack, for three nights only.  A spectacular performance, this event was last presented in New York’s Central Park in summer 2005. 
9 Drawings for Projection:  William Kentridge, 20, 21, 22 March, Federation Court, National Gallery of Victoria at NGV International.  A modest booking fee will apply.

Worldly Things:  Fantasy Coffins from Ghana is a unique exhibition of eight exquisitely carved coffins specially commissioned from the Paa Joe Carpentry workshop on the outskirts of Accra.  Each celebrates the role of life and death in contemporary Ghanian life.  These objects, shaped into forms such as fish, animals and vegetables, are meticulously carved and painted and have a special significance to the past life of the deceased. 

Worldly Things:  Fantasy Coffins from Ghana, 8 March – 1 April, 45 Downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane.

The exhibition Threading the Commonwealth:  Textile Tradition, Culture, Trade and Politics will tell two grand stories – the ceremonial significance of textiles in displays of power, and secondly, in an exhibition that celebrates rites of passage, cloths woven from gold and silver thread will cover Storey Hall’s façade and a giant embroidered canopy made by community members will drape the interior ceiling.

Threading the Commonwealth, 1 March – 30 April, RMIT Gallery.

Medalling.  Designed and Decorated is an exhibition of specially commissioned work based on the idea of the medal, designed by local artists including Pearl Gillies, Vicky Mason, Belinda Newick and Ian Bonde, all exploring the role of honouring merit and victory.

Medallion.  Designed and Decorated, 3 March – 30 April, RMIT Gallery.

An interactive project led by New Zealand artist Ani O’Neill will invite the public to participate in the creation of an art installation in The Buddy System.  The public will be taught by the ‘buddies’ to crochet small individual woolen flowers that will then be pinned to a wall as a floral installation that will literally grow over the course of the exhibition.  Upon completion, the flowers will be sent to a friend nominated by the maker.

The Buddy System, 8 March – 1 April.  Arc 1 Gallery, Flinders Lane.

Flash:  Australian Athletes in Focus is the National Portrait Gallery’s photographic exhibition exploring various interpretations of Australian sporting men and women.  The exhibition brings together the work of five photographers, some investigating the personal dimensions of elite athletes, others focusing on the social aspects of sport.

Flash:  Australian Athletes in Focus, 2 February – 12 April, Silvershot Gallery, Flinders Lane.

A significant new exhibition will explore contemporary art from South Asia and the diaspora emerging from the tradition of miniature painting.  Lila/Play:  Contemporary Miniatures and New Art from South Asia features painting, sculpture, installation and video work from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the U.K, Canada and Australia. 

Lila/Play:  Contemporary Miniatures and New Art from South Asia, 8 March – 1 April, Span Gallery.

The Best of the Best:  Celebrating the Commonwealth Photographic Award, is an annual prize organised by the Commonwealth Press Union, an association whose members are comprised of newspaper groups in 40 countries of the Commonwealth.  The exhibition shows a selection of the best photos in the prize from the past five years.

The Best of the Best, 17 February – 30 July, Immigration Museum.


Designs for a Modern World is an exhibition featuring the work of acclaimed Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, including the ‘Hill House’ writing desk, known as being the most expensive and valuable piece of 20th century furniture in the world.

Designs for a Modern World, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 4 February – 9 April, Bendigo Art Gallery.

Douglas Gordon’s A Moment’s Silence will be shown at the NGV International.  The work, from the Glasgow Museums Gallery of Modern Art is one of Gordon’s earliest works from 1988.

Douglas Gordon: A Moments Silence, March – mid June, National Gallery of Victoria at NGV International.

Festival Melbourne2006 – Wednesday 15 to Sunday 26 March, 2006

Festival Melbourne2006 celebrates the breadth of culture and art from across the nations of the Commonwealth. The Festival is an integral part of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, and it is proudly funded and supported by the Victorian and Australian Governments.

Katrina Hall 0421 153 046,                  
Magda Petkoff 0409 436 473,


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Festival Calendar
Ellis and Bheki
15-26 March 2006

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