Four hundred and fifty guests attended the opening of the exhibition.
They were undoubtedly the intelligentsia of Libyan society and
included representatives at the highest levels of Libyan Government,
the academic world and the artists. We had the Libyan Minister for
Planning, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Deputy of the
Department of Economic Management, International Public Relations, The
Deputy Minister for Culture, the Cultural Attache for the Foreign
Office, the Deputy Minister for Tourism - in fact, all the senior
government officials from
away from the capital in an attempt to de-centralise the Government,
so this is as senior as you can get here.
It is hard to imagine that an art exhibition could attract such a
brilliant crowd in
television hostesses who runs a greatly loved chat show, and
interviewed me as a contributing artist on the spot. a major (The
major) fashion designer wanted to give us fabric to make quilts from
Libyan textiles to see what can be done.
The reactions - well, I am struggling to find words. Some that seemed
to sum it up from people who spoke to me were "I am open mouthed", "I
am astounded", "How can people make such brilliant things", "How can
we teach our people to do this art?", "I have never seen such
beautiful work", "My heart is pumping so hard I cannot even think
straight", and "What a gift Australia has brought to Libya tonight!"
This is why i curate- it is the aura that it creates when all the works hang together- it is special. This is why i also travel exhibitions- we have become a bit blase about what there is to offer - but people in other countries are surprised and delighted and appreciative.
Thank you Jenny for doing such a wonderful job over there! Some of you may not know but last week there was a dreadful bus accident near Cairo involving Australian policemen and families holidaying in Egypt. The loss of life was saddening but many were badly injured so the embassy has been working night and day to get the best care possible for survivors and to repatriate the injured once travel is possible and to reunite families with their loved ones. The embassy in Cairo is not big so the Ambassador and staff and spouses worked tirelessly and without sleep in the first 48 hours after the accident to get the injured to the best hospitals possible, even to the extent of giving blood for transfusions of blood matched severely injured indivduals. So for Jenny to go to Tripoli to represent the exhibition has come on top of an exhausting and sad week. It is often easy to imagine that the work of embassies is rubbing shoulders with foreign ministers and companies but unfortunately there is this sad side to their duties as well.