Everything Old is New Again

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Rodel Tapaya, born Philippines 1980 The promise land: the moon, the sun, the stars (Cropped), Philippines 2016. Synthetic polymer on canvas. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 2017  2017.209.A-C

Everything Old is New Again

The Presentation of Asian Art at the National Gallery of Australia 2019 - 2022

One of the key roles of the curator at a collecting institution is to share the collection with the public, through research, publishing, public speaking and exhibition making. As an Asian art curator currently working at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) and previously employed at the National Gallery of Victoria, I have been very fortunate to have worked with stellar collections and had the opportunity to develop focus exhibitions and permanent collection displays. Indeed, the preparation of displays and exhibitions is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of curatorial practice as it combines the pleasures of research and writing, engaging with visitors, artists and source communities, and creatively presenting the collection.

The Asian Art Department at the NGA recently organised the Asian collection’s move to new gallery spaces, after 13 years in the previous galleries. Two customised Asian galleries, developed with a fresh conceptual approach aimed to facilitate nuanced audience engagement with the Asian collection, were opened in November 2019. However, public access to the galleries was interrupted from March to June 2020 by the Coronavirus pandemic, and during the lockdown the decision was made to completely reconfigure the NGA’s display spaces, including the new Asian galleries. As a result, from November 2022 Asian works will be incorporated into the presentation of International Art, in a display exploring intersections, alignments and narratives across the national collection.

This lecture looks at how the Asian collection was re-configured in the new galleries in 2019, and the curatorial opportunities that arose from working with different spaces and new ideas. It also examines the ongoing evolution of the display of Asian art at the NGA in the context of the current vision for the presentation of the national collection.

Carol Cains is Senior Curator of Asian Art at the NGA, a position she has held since November 2017. Previously she was Curator of Asian Art at the NGV and has a background in Asian studies and textile conservation. She has curated numerous exhibitions, most recently Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia at the NGA in 2019.

How to Register: Registration (only available to current TAASA members) closes Saturday 1 August. Please email Chris Manning (bookings@taasa.org.au) to receive your link to Zoom. Registered participants will be sent the link a day or two before the lecture. If you have not used Zoom before, there is no need to download it in advance. Just follow the prompts after you click on the link that will be sent to you upon registration and your device will download and connect you to Zoom.


3 August, 2020
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm AEST
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