Artworks from Australian artists show how the use of traditional materials and techniques could tell the story of today: for instance, through the traditional lacing techniques with more than two kilometres of cotton rope in the works of Lindy de Wijn, or the unique toad leather bags by Lia Tabrah and Perina Drummond. The artists have presented new artistic discourses rich in individuality. Yu Fang Chi aims to make forgotten stories visible and offer alternative narratives for interpreting them, questioning the relationship of the body, gesture, and jewellery, recreating the ambiguous relationships between body, gestures, and accessories. Michelle Hamer, with her hand-stitched artworks on perforated plastic, reflecting the cliché slogans by the media during COVID. All of them have been united, as stated by RMIT, in the same spirit of “recreating, reimagining a tortuous history of Australia by amplifying the voices of its local artists.”
On the Vietnamese artists, the representative from RMIT believes that “Vietnamese artists have a lot for others to learn from, with their vibrant, lively artworks coming from a rich, centuries-old traditional culture”. This is evident in the works present in the exhibition. Nguyen Tan Phat brings to the project his lacquer artworks inspired by the rural culture of Vietnam, with the image of the chicken flock. Ngo Trong Van presents a range of fine ceramics, while Vu Thao highlights the issues of sustainable fashion in her latest collection. Every one of them has brought their own personality and uniqueness into their works, which were created with materials and techniques used in Vietnam’s traditional handicrafts.
The most interesting of this exhibition is the way it has highlighted the many similarities between Vietnamese and Australian traditional materials. The difference, thus, lies in the way each artist, each artisan breathes life into each artwork. Some recreated the craft works of indigenous peoples like in their original forms, others used the same materials and presented them in brand new ways. On this experience, Nguyen Ha said: “It’s such an exciting experience! […] Basically, crafts comprise just as many fields and materials, but there are similarities right in the creative practices. Thanks to that, artists and artisans from both countries gain more in-depth knowledge on the practices of one another.