Seeing new histories

Photograph of a woman.

Photo: Courtesy of Fairfield Museum & Gallery Collection

Strange Histories at Fairfield City Museum & Gallery is one of a new breed of exhibition. Designed to provide a starting point for artists and a final resting place for their resultant products, this exhibition makes it easy for outsiders to peer into the multiple pasts of a community.

Developed to produce new commissioned and contemporary work for Fairfield's Gallery collection, five artists were asked to respond to objects from the city's museum collection as the basis for their artwork.

Guided by the curators who opened locked doors and shone torchlight into the dark corners of the museum collection and heritage village, artist Sean Rafferty found an old printing plate etched faintly with the image of Fairfield's long boarded up Crescent Theatre. From this, he re-creates the theatre; breathing life into it once more, and suspends it, to hover before the viewer as a delicate metaphor of projection house as projection.

Fragmented, ethereal and ghost-like, this work refuses tight focus, urging the viewer to examine their own experiences of memory.

Delving deep into drawers and cabinets and the thousands of objects describing Fairfield's rich immigrant history, Anney Bounprasouth unearthed a sampler. Embroidered by 10-year-old Caroline Stimson in 1879, Bounprasouth responds to it by constructing her own sampler. Adding her own symbols and figures and emblemising them in the same way the museum sampler showcases 19th century stitches, style and vernacular Australian symbols, she passes comment on history’s particular contribution to remembering and preserving.

As each of the artists engages with the archaeology of these community connections, a window on our own understanding of a material heritage and our aesthetic perceptions of it, is thrown wide open.

As each of the artists engages with the archaeology of these community connections, a window on our own understanding of a material heritage and our aesthetic perceptions of it, is thrown wide open.

Fairfield Museum is clearly no fusty old museum. It is ushering in the new and Strange Histories is providing space for contemporary art to seed, root and grow.

Get along to see the past, present and future of Fairfield’s cultural artefacts. 

 

This exhibition was developed by emerging curators Sandra Di Palma and Vaughan O’Connor in conjunction with Fairfield City Museum & Gallery.This project is supported by Arts NSW’s Curatorial Support Initiative grant, a devolved funding program administered by Museums & Galleries of NSW on behalf of the NSW Government.

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Museums & Galleries of NSW helps museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres of NSW create exciting and inspiring experiences for visitors and strong, thriving local communities. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions.

Museums & Galleries of NSW is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

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