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The art of migration travels to regional Queensland

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Caloundra Regional Gallery, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, will present an exhibition in June by Brisbane-based Filipino-Australian artists, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan.
The art of migration travels to regional Queensland

Key artwork for the exhibition is Coming Home, an installation of old wooden boats packed with domestic items.

The husband and wife duo, who migrated to Brisbane in 2006 following their inclusion in the third and fifth Asia Pacific Triennials of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, are renowned throughout Australia and the Asia-Pacific region for their projects which explore ideas of community, migration and transience, reflecting their own diasporic existence.

The Aquilizans have also participated in major international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale, 2003; the Singapore Biennale 2006; and the 15th Biennale of Sydney, 2006. Their exhibition ‘Inhabit: Project Another Country’, organised by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney was presented at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa Japan in 2012, before traveling to venues throughout  Queensland and New South Wales between 2013 and 2015.

‘Passing Through: Project Another Country' brings together new and recent projects that continue some of the Aquilizans’ recurring themes, as well as their collaborative approach to art making and use of everyday, non-traditional materials, often sourced from the local community.

Caloundra Regional Gallery Curator Hamish Sawyer said the Gallery is honoured to be presenting an exhibition by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, adding their personal history and collaborative approach to art-making humanises the migrant experience for a contemporary audience.

‘It’s important for younger audiences to appreciate that migration is a complex issue and there are different perspectives, so to have access to someone’s lived experience expressed in a creative, visual form is very powerful,’ he said.

Learn more about the exhibition

‘Passing Through: Project Another Country’ is anchored by Coming Home, 2017, an installation of old wooden boats packed with domestic and personal items, as if setting sail for a new country. Coming Home was originally exhibited as part of the inaugural Honolulu Biennial earlier this year, and the exhibition at Caloundra Regional Gallery will be the work’s first presentation in Australia.

A series of more than 200 postcard-sized photographs entitled Horizon, will form a seascape horizon around several walls of the Gallery, their intimate scale in contrast to the installation of life sized boats alongside. The Aquiliuzans are also re-working sculptural and wall-based components from their touring exhibition ‘Inhabit: Project Another Country’, reflecting their interest in recycling materials and works wherever possible.

The exhibition will also include ‘Artwork in a Box: Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’ an interactive, education program developed by QUT Art Museum in Brisbane.

Visitors to the exhibition, both children and adults, will be able to create their own boat from recycled cardboard, which they can either contribute to a display in the gallery foyer or take it home as a keepsake.

In anticipation of the exhibition, the Gallery has facilitated ‘Artwork in a Box’ at selected libraries and schools within the Sunshine Coast region. Sawyer says opportunities for engagement and outreach are important drivers of attendance to gallery exhibitions.

‘I think the themes of migration, transience and crossing borders will resonate quite strongly,’ he said. ‘There’s a strong interest in engagement and participation opportunities from the community on the Coast, and we hope that people take advantage of ‘Artwork in a Box’ to engage with this exhibition.’

This exhibition has been 12 months in development, with ongoing discussions between Sawyer and the Aquilizans as they have undertaken exhibitions and projects in locations including Japan, New York and Singapore. Sawyer feels it’s imperative that regional audiences are given access to developments in contemporary art and scholarship, through focused presentations by leading practitioners, such as the Aquilizans.

‘It’s important for regional communities to be able to engage with the work of significant contemporary artists and the important ideas they explore,’ he said.

‘Passing through: Project Another Country’ runs from June 22 to August 13 at Caloundra Regional Gallery. Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan will deliver a floor talk at the Gallery prior to the official opening at 5:30pm on Thursday June 22. The pair will also facilitate a community workshop at the gallery on Friday June 23. Check the Gallery website for bookings and more information.

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