Damien Shen draws from his Ngarringeri and Chinese heritage making powerful images that reflect the complexities of race and identity in Australia. He’s “interested in the Coorong region, work that relates to the stories my family has about their early memories of growing up on the Raukkan mission in the early 50s”. An accomplished story-teller, he will work with Mt Gambier artists, producing tintypes through a travelling interactive project involving local communities.
Profile image: Brent Leideritz
About + Touring
Pat Hoffie Curator
Rosemary Miller Associate Curator
Colin Langridge Project Touring, Contemporary Art Tasmania
Vanghoua Anthony Vue Graphic Designer (catalogues, website, advertising, social media)
Troy Melville Video documentation
Jon Bowling Designer, exhibition furniture and shipping container fit-out
Claire Pendrigh Education Programme
Dawn Oelrich Director, Burnie Regional Art Gallery
Brett Adlington Director, Lismore Regional Gallery
Kellie Williams Director, Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts
Melentie Pandilovski Director, Riddoch Gallery
Daniel Thomas Essay Contributor
Greg Lehman Essay Contributor
Also thanks to:
Michael Edwards Contemporary Art Tasmania
Mary Reilly and Randolph Wylie Burnie Regional Art Gallery
Fiona Fraser Assistant, Lismore Regional Gallery
(a ‘user’s guide’)
* The Partnershipping Project is a project based around an exhibition of art that travels to 4 regional gallery destinations. The works are made by 20 regionally based artists, each of whom has created work in response to the question: ‘does place matter?’
* The Partnershipping Project aims to explore the extent to which the places where we live, and the communities with whom we share our lives, and who affect who we are. In the past, place, along with friends, family and traditions, provided the strongest grounds for building a sense of belonging. This exhibition questions the extent to which this might have changed - or not.
Psychologists believe a sense of belonging is fundamental to the development of personal growth, self-esteem and the realisation of potential. Yet, in today’s media-saturated world, we may feel as if we get a sense of belonging through on-line experiences more than we do through an attachment to place.
The globalised world brings us images, ideas, music, art and literature from all across the planet, through on-line platforms and providers that are more powerfully funded than local entrepreneurs. Multi-national conglomerates like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google provide us with our daily doses of news, sport, fact, fiction, fashion, fetishes and culture. They make us aware of ‘what’s trending’ internationally, and it would be easy to think that these provide us with the strongest links, affiliations and identifiers.
We are all ‘global citizens’. But to what extent are we still part of ‘local communities’? Is it possible to be both global and local? Does the emphasis on being in touch with what’s ‘global’ affect the way we are able to recognise the little idiosyncratic differences of what’s right in front of us in our everyday lives? Or are these everyday details of our local lives made to seem too small, too local, too trivial to matter?
The Partnershipping Project is based around a travelling exhibition of art. But those of us involved in the project like to think of the word ‘art’ as a verb, rather than a noun. That is, it’s a kind of ‘doing, being or having or helping word’ – a word that performs an action, rather than one that acts as a passive subject. In this case, the action of art is to link ideas and images between the artists, the audiences, their communities and their places in a way that makes all the responses important. And that’s why it’s not only important that you look at the work, it’s just as important that you respond to the work.
The journey of The Partnershipping Project’s small flotilla of art-cargo-boats will travel to four main watery exchange-destinations: Burnie, Tasmania, where the chilly seas of Bass Strait wash the shores of the island-below-the-island of mainland Australia; to Townsville in Queensland, where, if you follow the currents running north through the Great Barrier Reef, you will eventually come across the islands of the Torres Strait; to Lismore in northern New South Wales, a town regularly flooded by the visually beautiful but unpredictable Wilsons River; to Mt. Gambier, a town perched on the volcanic slopes that run down to the Limestone Coast of South Australia. After its journeying of exchange, the small fleet will once again cross the waters of Bass Strait to return to Burnie from where it began. This time, the fleet of eight will bear art from each of the four destinations.
Project Overview + Touring Mode & Schedule
“The collaboration inherent in a partnership is more than a mere exchange – it is the creation of something new, of value, together.”
Who are the partners in this Partnershipping Project? They include the artists, the regional gallery directors and their staff, the touring agency (Contemporary Art Tasmania) representatives, the curators, the designers, the marketers, the funders (the Australia Council and Visions Australia), the schools and organisations associated with the local audiences, the communities and families the artists worked with and, importantly, you, the reader of this catalogue.
As the project grows, more and more partnerships will be established; the ‘specified goal’ we all share is to think a little more carefully about these places we live in, and the communities we are part of, and to consider the extent to which those of us who are lucky enough to live in regional areas might share values and experiences.
The Partnershipping Project also asks us to think about how very special each of these communities and places might be. As The Partnershipping Project progresses, it will change – the artwork and the artists and the audiences will all change, and all of these changes and responses to them will be gathered together in the online catalogue – a compendium of images and ideas and conversations that are at the heart of the project.
Each iteration of The Partnershipping Project shares a little fleet of eight hand-made wooden boats as constants throughout its journey. Themes associated with boats and shipping exchanges have provided foundations for the word: the very origin of the term ‘partnershipping’ comes from the fifteenth century, when shipping companies associated with a group of countries sharing the northern coastline of Europe decided to form a partnership called the Hanseatic League. By ‘partnershipping’, they shared economic gains while strengthening ties between the countries involved. The long-lasting success of the agreement was based on their willingness to join forces in a spirit of reciprocal trust.
The little boats that carry the artworks in The Partnershipping Project have been salvaged from across Tasmania. As an island-below-an-island, Tasmania is known for its wooden boat building. Craftsmen who make these boats have contributed a great deal to Tasmania’s sense of its culture. The boat-builders are cultural producers, just as artists are cultural producers. This flotilla of little salvaged boats is a carrier for the artwork of artists from across four regional destinations in four states. Each artist brings aspects of their own story, and their own community, to the work they produce. In a sense, each of these eight little boats that carry cargo from somewhere else carry a ‘message in a bottle’ – they have been launched on to the next destination to tell other artists and audiences a little bit about what it feels like to live and work where they come from.
As has been mentioned, the ‘display furniture’ for the artists’ installations have been created through re-purposing eight little hand-made wooden tenders from Tasmania. This little fleet will carrychanging ‘cargo’ in the form of artwork to/for each of its venues. At each venue, the work of more artists is added to ‘the fleet’.
The work of eight Tasmanian artists will fill the boats for the first iteration of the project at Burnie Regional Art Gallery (BRAG). But when the exhibition moves forward, only two boats filled with the work of Tasmanian artists will continue to the next destination in Townsville. Here the work of six Townsville artists will fill the six empty boats, so that the exhibition at Umbrella Studios will include six boats bearing artworks from locally based artists, and two boats carrying work from Tasmanian artists.
When the exhibition travels on from Townsville to Lismore, two boats filled with works from Townsville artists will join those two filled boats with Tasmanian works to arrive in Lismore. Four artists from Lismore will exhibit at the Lismore Regional Gallery along with the work of artist from Townsville and Tasmania, but only two boats carrying work from Lismore will move on (with two boats with Townsville work and two boats filled with Tasmanian work) to Mt. Gambier. At Riddoch Art Gallery two artists have two boats to fill, to be exhibited with the work from Tasmania, Townsville and Lismore. So when the exhibition leaves Riddoch Art Gallery to return ‘home’ to BRAG, the fleet of eight will be comprised of four lots of two boats representing each of the four regions.
All the way along the journey, documentation of each exhibition will be recorded, so that the final exhibition in BRAG will feature a video documentary of the project’s various iterations at all destinations. Alongside this, a comprehensive online catalogue and website will document individual artist’s developments and contributions. The final project is conceived of much more than a chain of exhibitions – it entails a process of ongoing assessments, amendments and adjustments arrived at through processes that include interaction, intervention, collaboration and consultation.
1 Kanter, 1994, in World Health Organisation (WHO), 2009, Building a Working Definition of Partnership African Partnerships for Patient Safety (APPS) (http://www.who.int/patientsafety/implementation/apps/resources/defining_partnerships-apps.pdf )