Exhibition captures a slice of island life

20 September 2012

An exhibition portraying the culture and landscapes of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea is putting island life firmly in the frame.

The exhibition, The Art of Ethnography: Images from Trobriand Islands Fieldwork, is a collection of photographs taken by PhD student Mr Andrew Connelly from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. Mr Connelly spent most of 2010 conducting fieldwork in the Trobriands, trying to learn as much as possible about Trobriand life and culture.

“The Trobriand Islands lie in the Solomon Sea, approximately 100 miles north of the eastern tip of the main island of New Guinea. Trobriand Islanders are famous for their remarkable gardens, their skills at sailing in ocean-going canoes, and for being the subject of Bronislaw Malinowski's groundbreaking anthropological fieldwork during World War I,” said Mr Connelly.

“The exhibition came about when I shared some pictures with the Director of the Sacramento State University Anthropology Museum in California, who offered me the opportunity to put on an exhibition there.

“I am not a professional photographer, but I always kept my camera near at hand when I was living in the Trobriands. Luckily for me, most Trobrianders are not shy or sensitive about having their picture taken.”

Mr Connelly’s research compares colonial government, missionary and anthropological accounts of the Trobriand Islands before World War II with the memories of Trobriand Islanders.

The Art of Ethnography highlights the Pacific studies programs on offer at ANU, including the Pacific Studies Baccalaureate program, the newly formed ANU Pacific Institute – which brings together Pacific experts from all disciplines – and the Pasifika Australia Program, which provides outreach and support to the Pacific Islander community in Australia.

The exhibition, running in the Menzies Library at ANU until January 2013, is presented by the University Enterprises of California State University, Sacramento; ANU Library; ANU Pacific Institute; ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, and the Papua New Guinea High Commission to Australia.

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