Monday, January 16, 2006

Across Australia

Well after last weeks whine about the frustrations of funding ( which haven't gone away) Jenny Bowker ( the Australian Ambassador to Egypt's wife) sent me a report of the opening of Across Australia in Tripoli in Libya last night;

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
Tripoli. The heads of departments have moved
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
Australia. We also had one of the most popular
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.


Claire said...

Thanks for the report of Jenny. I had checked her blog for any news of what the fall out was for her after the crash but she is obviously very busy.

Sounds like the exhibition was a hit. Congratulations!


Omega said...

Congratulations on the success of your exhibition.
After talking to Sheila Paine about the disappearance of traditional embroidery in so many areas I'm not surprised that people in a country like Lybia are ready once more to appreciate beautiful hand made art. I would not be at all surprised to find a good market for workshops among the middle classes in such countries.

A few years back when I did a machine embroidery workshop at the Embroiderers' Guild there was one woman who had come over from I can't remember which Middle Eastern country specifically to learn the teaching approach. Her plan was to run workshops for not only ex-pats, but for the growing clamour withing the leisured middle class. She was already doing some teaching and making enough money that it was worth her flying to the UK and staying in a hotel for three weeks to pick up a certificate from the EG which would enable her to run more classes.

It's probably too late for your upcoming trip, but perhaps a thought for the future. And definitely a market to explore for your booklet and cd.

Power to all elbows!

teri springer said...

So happy the exhibit was so well received (not surprised tho). And so sad about the bus accident. Jenny is a wonder, isn't she? She never ceases to amaze me.


MargaretR said...

Wonderful news about your exhibition being so well recieved.

I also read Jenny's blog fairly regularly and it's an eye opener to the work done at the Embassies. I find it really interesting.

Sarah Ann Smith said...

What wonderful news about the show in Libya! I get goosebumps just thinking about the impact the show will have with those willing souls who take the concept home and begin to run with it!

I'm sorry to hear about the accident with the Australians in Egypt. Having done consular work for the US, I can imagine how long the days have been for the staff there.....the good thing though is that the work is rewarding. You are from the government and you actually get to help someone when they NEED help, in a foreign land and hurt and scared. It was the only section of the embassy that regularly receives flowers and thank you notes from grateful folks.

Travel safely, and looking forward to more fascinating and thought-provoking posts! And, on a personal note...any chance there might be a copy of the exhibit catalog for someone outside of Oz? I know you don't have many extras, but the two catalogs I ordered from you a couple years ago are some of my favorite eye candy!

Cheers, Sarah (in Camden, Maine)

cfent said...

wow dijanne. its so wonderful when all your hard work (and everyone else's too) comes to fruition in
such a wonderful way..... congrats