TAASA Review Issues

June 2008

Vol: 17 Issue: 2
Editor: Sandra Forbes

Cover Image
Two Rajput Princes, India (Jodhpur, Rajasthan), c. 1910 Opaque watercolour with gold. Silver and mica on cotton 75.6 x 91cm. Collection National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1992. 1374): Shown in the recent exhibition Intimate Encounters at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

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Editorial

People everywhere have been appalled and saddened at the loss of life caused by the recent natural disasters in Burma and China. The scale of destruction been so horrifying that even to think about whether works of art and architecture will have survived or might be restored seems heartless or even irrelevant. But of course it is not irrelevant. The world’s history and civilisation is recorded in its arts. As is clear from a number of articles in this issue of TAASA Review, the protection and conservation of Asian works of of art, particularly in situ, continues to be a significant problem. For example, Rong Fan describes the restoration of murals at Tholing Monastery, western Tibet, where the temple was used as a barn during the Cultural Revolution; Philip Courtenay’s paper on Prambanan in Java mentions the significant damage inflicted by an earthquake in 2006. Museums and public and private foundations play a major role in both protection of sites and conservation of objects for future generations. Therefore I’m sure that TAASA members will be pleased to read in this issue (p. 22) about increased interest among Australian public galleries and museums in funding the arts of Asia. The National Gallery of Victoria has recently launched a new Asian Art Acquisition Fund; VisAsia at the Art Gallery of NSW is behind an increasing number of events and acquisitions; the Director of the National Gallery of Australia has announced that his Gallery’s central priority will be to purchase Australian and Asia-Pacific works; the Art Gallery of South Australia is building a significant collection of Islamic Art (ref. TAASA Review December 2007); and Queensland’s new GoMA focuses on the contemporary arts of the region.

Private collectors, too, play an important part in the preservation of art objects. It’s always stimulating when a collector wants to enthuse about their love object, and two do so in this issue, writing about an energetic Mongolian bronze Yama and a spectacular Tibetan dragon trunk respectively. Sometimes, without any particular initial intention, an issue of TAASA Review seems naturally to develop a focus on a particular subject or geographic area. That has happened with this issue, where the majority of articles concern the arts of South Asia and the Himalayas. Some core articles were submitted – for example, Gerry Virtue’s about his adventures in Mustang – others were commissioned because they seemed appropriately contingent. And there you are.

Maybe this South Asia leaning was in some subtle way due to our wish in this issue to celebrate the life of the beautiful Dee Court, whose gift for friendship combined with her passion for South and Central Asian art to provide wonderful experiences for so many people. A tribute to Dee is, appropriately, our lead article in this issue.   While Dee’s principal fascination and expertise in recent years was with the Islamic arts (particularly the textiles) of Central Asia, she also loved the decorative arts of the Indian sub-continent. She would have loved the two Rajasthani princes who appear on the cover of this issue, and would have analysed the details of their garments and jewellery meticulously – including their watches, of which they are so proud that they wear them outside their cuffs. She would have enjoyd the exhibition Intimate Encounters, in which this painting was recently shown, and have appreciated Devleena Ghosh’s review here. Dee would have been pleased to know that a new South Asian gallery has opened in Toronto, and would have enjoyed knowing more about the Umaid Bhawan Palace at Jodhpur in Rajasthan – which is not far from where she died.

Our cover painting was obviously influenced by photography, which has in itself played a vital role in recording Asian art, history and civilisation. The next (September 2008) issue of TAASA Review, guest edited by Dr Jim Masselos, will focus on photography. It is timed to coincide with the internationally significant exhibition Picture Paradise: the first century of Asia-Pacific photography 1840s to 1940s at the National Gallery of Australia, and other associated exhibitions to be held in Canberra. See our What’s On section for more details. And don’t forget to book for TAASA’s seminar on Beijing (Sydney and Melbourne, in July and August).

Table of contents

3 Editorial: Finding Focus – Sandra Forbes

4 Dee Court, 1944 – 2008: A Tribute – Gill Green

6 Tashi Kabum: A Mustang treasure revealed – Gerry Virtue

9 Tholing Monastery: Cooperation and conservation – Rong Fan

12 Collector’s choice: A Tibetan dragon chest – Todd Sandeman

13 Collector’s choice: A Mongolian Yama – Boris Kaspiev and Richard Price

14 Traveler’s choice: Polish art deco in India – Maria Wronska-Friend

15 New South Asian gallery in Toronto – Haema Sivanesan

16 Raffles and Prambanan – Philip Courtenay

18 Djuwadi: Folding the relational into art – Alexandra Crosby

21 Exhibition: Multiple lives, parallel traditions – Devleena Ghosh

22 Report: Funding developments, Asian arts

23 International symposium on Buddhist art – Ann MacArthur

24 TAASA member’s diary

25 Recent TAASA activities 

26 What’s on: June – August 2008

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