The top of September saw the commencement of The UK/Australia Season 2021-22, a joint initiative by the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, under the Royal patronage of Her Majesty the Queen. This Season highlights the breadth of partnership between Australia and the UK, and aims to deepen and extend cultural connections. This season's theme ‘Who Are We Now?’ reflects on our history, explores our current relationship, and imagines our future together. The Season celebrates the diversity of cultures and languages in both countries, with an emphasise on Australia’s First Nations voices.
Aliging with the beginning of the season, was the launch of 'Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museums' which was held at the British Museum and hosted by the Hon Julie Gillard. CHMS's Dr Jilda Andrews joined the launch remotely from her home in Canberra, to discuss her chapter 'String ecologies: Indigenous country and pastoral empires' along side the National Museum of Australia's Dr Maria Nugent. Sharing their reflections on uncovering, researching and presenting these profound objects and telling their stories. The launch has been hailed as a grand success by all who attened!
More on 'Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museums' :
Museums across Great Britain and Ireland hold Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (collectively referred to as ‘Indigenous’) cultural heritage of exceptional value which is largely unknown, rarely seen and poorly understood. Gifted, sold, exchanged and bartered by Indigenous people, and accepted, bought, collected and taken by travellers, colonists, explorers, missionaries, officials and others, these rare objects date from Captain Cook in 1770 to the present day. Numbering over 35,000 items, they represent all regions of Australia’s vast landmass, from deserts, islands and coasts to tropical rainforests. This book uses nearly 160 artefacts, selected from over 30 public museums, both large metropolitan and small regional, to present a multi-stranded narrative that opens up vistas on Britain’s Australian history as much as Australia’s British history. More than twenty Indigenous, Australian and international experts weave together deeply-contextualised accounts of object-types; of makers, communities and regions; and of collectors, networks and institutions, while also exploring the meanings and importance of this material in Australia, Britain and Ireland and the world today. Distanced from their places of origin and dispersed throughout Britain and Ireland, these objects are gathered together for the first time. Out of museum stores and into this book, they are evidence of the complex and often difficult relationships between Indigenous Australians and British people and institutions, as well as being powerful conduits for telling that history anew and in ways that seek to challenge and rework its legacies.