Sydney Update and State Library of Queensland

Between my last blog post and now things have been incredibly busy. The majority of my time has been spent at my internship with the Trainor/Owen Archives. I am approximately halfway through my project! I am hopeful that I will be able to catalogue the entire collection before time runs out. Although that sounds awfully dramatic, there are instances where I have opened an unmarked archival box to find 30+ objects inside. As each object must be described, measured, photographed, etc etc this can take a very long time. To date, I have managed to complete 182 objects. I definitely believe my ability to describe an object has improved as well as my basic photography skills.

In other study news, my intensive subject on sites of trauma, landscapes of genocide, finished two weeks ago. It was probably one of the most interesting subjects I have completed in my degree. I’m currently writing my final essay for the course on whether Auschwitz-Birkenau should be preserved or left to decay. My other course is on objects and places. Whilst we did have an excursion last week, it was to Cockatoo Island. Needless to say, I was very familiar with the heritage of the site and have definitely blogged about it before.

Other than study, I have been working and volunteering. I am back volunteering regularly with the Australian Dress Register which has been very exciting. It is wonderful to see the array of textiles held in collections all around Australia. Quite a few new entries have been published recently so follow the link and enjoy!

http://www.australiandressregister.org/

The rest of my post is going to focus on the new exhibition at the State Library of Queensland. I made the decision earlier this week to book flights home and spend some time with family. Part of that time was spent at the library. I was really looking forward to seeing Tradition Now – an exhibition contributing to the 2016 theme of the library “Belonging”. The exhibition is divided over three floors. I am going to focus on the section located on level 4. The aim of the exhibition is to present “diverse individual and family stories shared by traditional custodians of this land and by culturally diverse Queenslanders”. What is most interesting about this exhibition is that the objects are all on loan from families or individuals. We have discussed objects and affect quite recently in our course and it was great to see such a fine example of objects representing emotional connections.

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Vietnamese Display Case

Overall, it was a very engaging exhibition. Communities included Vietnamese, Iranian, European, Indigenous, and African. From a design perspective, each had their own separate display area that was easy to navigate. In the middle of the space was an activity station. Visitors could create paper boats or draw and cut-out objects significant to their family to add to a central pile. Every time I sit down at a museum activity station I realize I am terrible at following basic design directions. I don’t know what I made, but, it definitely was not a boat. Nevertheless, I thought both activities were fantastic because they were not restricted to a particular age.

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Walking around the exhibition space, I couldn’t help but think who exactly decided which stories were going to be displayed. This idea of belonging and including many stories is fantastic, but, problematic. Trying to include everyone may, in fact, lead to exclusion. I would also like to know who curated the exhibition. Did the families and individuals have great input when it came to design etc? Or was it a case of donating the objects and seeing the end result with little opportunity to contribute in the middle? These types of questions weren’t really answered in the exhibition space. Nevertheless, the exhibition did achieve its aim of providing an insight into the wonderful diversity of cultures in Queensland.

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On exiting the exhibition space we spent some time looking at the small exhibition Keepsakes of War. There were a few souvenirs and trinkets on display from World War I. They had three particularly beautiful silk postcards on display. I have included a photograph of them below. I wanted to mention this display purely because of the exhibition interpretation card. All of the object information was printed on a large card available for visitors to pick-up at the beginning of the exhibition. It was amazing and so detailed. I am a strong believer that a small exhibition can be just as impressive and innovative as something large!

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I will strive to write a bit more over the next few weeks. I am not making any promises, but, I do love writing entries and hope to be inspired again soon!

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