Australian Arts in Asia award announces winners, strengthening Asia-Pacific ties

Multimedia Art Asia Pacific Inc win the Visual Art award, as governments across the region promote cultural connections.

Multimedia Art Asia Pacific Inc, a nonprofit focusing on media arts from Australia and Asia, has won the Visual Art award at the first Australian Arts in Asia Award, announced in Sydney on 1 August 2013. The inauguration of the award hints at official determination to bring the two continents closer culturally.

Lin Tianmiao, ‘Private Reading Lamp’, 2010, fabric, steel frame, light globe, seat/cushions. Image courtesy MAAP.

Lin Tianmiao, ‘Private Reading Lamp’, 2010, fabric, steel frame, light globe, seat/cushions. Image courtesy MAAP.

Brisbane-based Multimedia Art Asia Pacific Inc (MAAP), which has been in operation since 1998, won the Visual Art award for “Light from Light”, a touring exhibition of contemporary art from Australia and China showing in both countries simultaneously. Featuring the work of artists such as Zhang Peili, Wang Peng, Pak Sheung Chuen, Lin Tianmiao and Wang Gongxin from China, as well as Australian representatives such as Archie Moore and duo Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, “Light from Light” showed solar-powered sculpture, neon art objects, light-sculptures, sounds generated by the sun and illuminated texts.

Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, ‘Light from Light’, 2010, self powered geodesic dome, custom-built photovoltaic panels, acrylic, neon/LED lighting and aluminium frame. Image courtesy MAAP.

Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, ‘Light from Light’, 2010, self powered geodesic dome, custom-built photovoltaic panels, acrylic, neon/LED lighting and aluminium frame. Image courtesy MAAP.

Established to “recognise Australian artists and arts organisations who contribute by enhancing Australia’s relationship with Asia”, according to a government website, the new Australian Arts in Asia award featured fourteen categories, including Visual Art. Federal Arts Minister for the Arts Tony Burke, who announced the winners at an event on 1 August, was quoted in artsHub Australia as saying,

Australia’s engagement in Asia isn’t simply about trade, business and foreign affairs; there is a dynamic cultural engagement which allows Australian art to be experienced in Asia, great works to be available here and most importantly fresh creativity which is only possible because of the way we work together

Artists and art groups working with China were the most heavily awarded, noted Global Times, with over half of the inaugural Australian Arts in Asia Awards going to Sino-Australian arts initiatives. “Our relationship with China is a significant one,” said Burke at the ceremony, “and the contribution of Australian artists is demonstrated by the 20 nominations we received from artists engaging with China.”

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, 'Broadcast from the Ionosphere: Sunvalley Radio', 2012, sound installation and web site, hand painted silk. Image courtesy MAAP.

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, ‘Broadcast from the Ionosphere: Sunvalley Radio’, 2012, sound installation and web site, hand painted silk. Image courtesy MAAP.

Art ties that bind

Both the Chinese and Australian governments have made moves to strengthen ties between the two nations’ cultural scenes. An exhibition of Xu Hongfei’s “chubby women” sculptures reached Melbourne in July 2013, sponsored by the Chinese authorities. Coordinator of the exhibition Marcus Rubenstein echoed Tony Burke in an interview with ABC News, saying “China and Australia have significant trade ties, but the Chinese government realises, and the Australian as well, recognise that we need cultural ties in order to develop our relationship beyond simply trade.”

Watch ABC News’s report on Xu Hongfei’s exhibition on Youtube.com

For its part, the Australian government has, notes artsHub, encouraged the development of stronger cultural ties with Asian nations by creating the Asian Century White Paper and Creative Australia—the first national cultural policy in nearly twenty years.

 Cassandra Naji

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Related Topics: Asian art, Australian art, awards, Asia expands, contemporary art as soft power 

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