If you were in charge of your own museum, what stories would you choose to share about the fascinating items in its collection?
Keeping it Real was a thought-provoking exhibition using objects from the QPAC Museum Collection to encourage big ideas to flow from conversations about small things.
The exhibition ran in QPAC’s Tony Gould Gallery until 27 November 2021.
The exhibition reflected the idea that two people can view the same object, but interpret it differently based on their background and knowledge.
Exhibition Manager, Maria Cleary explained:
“There is something universally human and optimistic about the seven themes of the exhibition - Unite, Transform, Bring Joy, Find Courage, Remember The Good Times, Love, and Make Change. Twenty-one objects were carefully chosen from the collection because they resonated beautifully with the themes of the exhibition and seven of these became our ‘hero’ objects.
“We invited the people connected to these hero objects – as previous owners, or someone with special knowledge for instance, to talk with someone not connected to it. Then we listened as wonderful conversations took place,” says Maria.
Long Tack Sam and his Children, 1925. Photographer C F Gairing and Company, Chicago.
Maria said the exhibition themes could be interpreted as contemporary calls to action.
“The conversations revealed something of these aspirational themes in a variety of unexpected historical and theatrical contexts,” says Maria
The exhibition brought together arts industry personalities including Australian playwright and artistic director Wesley Enoch AM and First Nations multidisciplinary artist and producer Aidan Rowlingson.
Wesley and Aidan discussed a program for a play called Fountains Beyond. The program was from a Brisbane Repertory Theatre Society (forerunner of La Boite Theatre) production at Albert Hall, Brisbane in 1947.
In 2000, Wesley directed a new production of Fountains Beyond and shared his particular connection with the play in conversation with Aidan.
“I did a new production of [Fountains of Beyond] 50 years later and our conversation made me think on what’s changed in that period of time and the representation of Indigenous Australians from this particular play through to my production,” says Wesley.
“This object is a through-line to the kind of history it represents for Indigenous Australians. Arts objects act as anchors for memory. They are a great way to remind us of how much we have changed. These exhibitions give us a new view of history, an insight into how it was, way before our lived memory.”
Wesley added that he was quite surprised about the inter-generational differences he and Aidan had.
“I love this idea that I am an artist in my 50s talking to an artists in his 20s and how we have different views on the world. If anything, that says how things shift and change and how we have to stay interconnected to that inter-generational recording of history through museum experiences, lived experiences, sharing stories and also encouraging younger generations to see the future and what is possible.”
Want to know more about Fountains Beyond? Here’s a link to a precis of the play.
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