‘No.1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016’ presents work by artists from Papua New Guinea created from the mid-1960s, through Independence in 1975, until today. The exhibition focuses on the vibrancy of contemporary artistic expression, a direction that is unique in Australia. A key conceptual thread within ‘No.1 Neighbour’ is the importance of the ongoing relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea with projects profiling ongoing creative relationships between communities and individuals.
No.1 Neighbour presents Australian audiences with a snapshot of the contemporary art and culture of Papua New Guinea. The exhibition highlights the diversity of the different cultures found in this dynamic young nation and brings together works from 9 of its 22 provinces. The breadth of creative expression is evident, ranging from bilas (ornamentation) and the masking traditions involved in sing-sing (gatherings of the tribes to share cultural traditions) through to bold explorations in printmaking and painting technologies, as well as the dynamism of music and dance.
Spirit house, ceiling by Kwoma artists from the East Sepik region, highlights the importance of such buildings as places of local decisionmaking. The work also references the Kwoma-inspired ceiling in Parliament House in Port Moresby and the more formal shared history between our countries.
The source of the sea, a immersive installation a Bit na Ta (The source of the sea) by Australian David Bridie of Wantok Musik Foundations, developed through historical analysis of the period between 1875 and 1975 by Tolai historian Gideon Kakabin, presents the history of the politically active Tolai people of East New Britain from their own perspective. Delivered through songs written collaboratively by celebrated Tolai musician George Telek and David Bridie, with input from Anslom Nakikus, the Matupit choir, elders Bung Marum and Revie Kinkin and the Gilnata, Moab and Amidel tribe string bands, among others, the installation exposes audiences to the events that shaped this century for the Tolai, including occupation by three colonial powers (including Australia), two World Wars and three volcanic eruptions. Music threads through all facets of Tolai life so it was important that this be the primary medium for the installation, which evokes a Tolai cultural space and history.
A major component of the exhibition initiating new more ‘modern’ forms of expression, transferring traditional body painting, architectural and mark making traditions to canvas and paper. these works record the meeting of the two worlds, drawing on customary forms of expression to record and make sense of the demands, temptations and experiences of alienation within the processes of national modernisation.
Artists also address the effect of these processes on the women within the exhibition. Modernisation changed traditional gender roles: women, who were relied on for their strong work ethic and maintenance of everyday life, have often stepped more easily into cash economies. The status accompanying this access to money has contributed to tension in existing hierarchies and gender balances.
No.1 Neighbour also seeks to highlight the creativity of key Papua New Guinean women artists with the inclusion of works. The assertion of gender parity and the acknowledgment of women’s importance in promoting a healthy and creative society is one of the strong threads that unite the artists’ practices.
The exhibition is accompanied by a range of public programs, extending our exploration and acknowledgment of the art of Papua New Guinea with a choreographed bilum event, an a Bit na Ta performance, storytelling, and a pottery and cooking demonstration. Expect bold colour, hauntingly beautiful singing, towering spectacular sculptural forms, lyrical lines, sensual textures, humour, and sparklingly sophisticated expressions of our shared history and responsibility for the future.
No.1 Neighbour is supported by the Gordon Darling Foundation and through the Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Queensland Art Gallery
The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) is an art museum located in the South Bank precinct of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The gallery is part of the Queensland Cultural Centre. It complements the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) building, situated only 150 metres (490 ft) away.
Queensland Art Gallery was established in 1895 and moved to its current residence at South Bank in 1982. It was joined by the Gallery of Modern Art in 2006 and the galleries now house a globally significant collection of contemporary art from Australia, Asia and the Pacific.
The experience of a visit starts when the striking architecture of our riverside galleries comes into view. Glimpses of Brisbane continue to anchor you to our subtropical city from inside each gallery, while ever-changing exhibitions, programs and events broaden your horizons.
Queensland Art Gallery is also home to a Children’s Art Centre that presents interactive artworks for kids and families, a cinema that celebrates film from around the world, plus gallery shops with art, books and cultural curios to take home. Every visit is a conversation starter, and our outdoor cafes and award-winning restaurant offer places for stimulating discussion.