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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Unknown photographer / Australia / South Sea Islander built house c.1900-10 / Colourised postcard / Purchased 2010. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
11 JUNE 2013
An exhibition reflecting on the contribution of Australian South Sea Islanders to Queensland through the history of the sugar industry is showing at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) until October 7.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said 'Sugar' was part of the Cultural Precinct's collaborative program 'Memories from a Forgotten People: 150 Years of Australian South Sea Islander Contributions to Queensland', taking place from June to November 2013 across QAG, the Queensland Museum and State Library of Queensland.

'The Gallery's exhibition features historical photographs from the 1870s onwards documenting the South Sea Islander community working in Queensland's sugar industry, together with later works from the Collection such as Max Dupain's romantic mid-twentieth-century visions of sugar production, an iconic self-portrait in the north Queensland cane fields by Chinese Australian photographer William Yang, and the collaborative barkcloth installation Tetei Vou (A new garden) 2009, which examines the legacy of sugar production in Fiji,' Mr Saines said.

'A selection of historical images from the State Library of Queensland Collection also features in the exhibition, along with stories and music clips by members of the Australian South Sea Islander community, providing a glimpse of contemporary Islander experience to extend our understanding of their history.'

Mr Saines said Queensland's early sugar industry depended on the cheap labour provided by Islanders recruited or kidnapped from across Melanesia between 1863 and 1904.

'For the descendants of those Islanders who weren't deported following Federation in 1901, the coastal ports and sugar towns of northern Queensland became home,' he said.

On Friday August 16 at the Gallery of Modern Art, a free Perspectives Asia seminar – hosted in collaboration with the Griffith Asia Institute – titled 'Blackbirding, South Sea Islanders and seasonal workers: Historical Memory and contemporary justice across the Pacific' will be jointly presented by the Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Lands, Geology and Mines, Republic of Vanuatu and Pacific Islands journalist and researcher Nic Maclellan.

On Saturday August 17 from 3.30pm the Gallery will present a special free performance by two renowned musicians, Australian South Sea Islander singer Georgia Corowa and Ni-Vanuatu singer–songwriter Mars Melto. Corowa and Melto will perform 'Slava Land', produced by Chris Jay from Champion Sound, and other songs.
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