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ANU students shine light on Canberra’s history in ‘Home Grown’ exhibition

The Writing’s On the Wall, Unknown Artist 1985, Paper screen print printed in colour inks from two photo stencils, Megalo International Screenprint Collective, Ainslie, Canberra. 

Wednesday 18 October 2017
ANU Heritage and Museum Studies Masters students have curated an exhibition of community art that tells the story of Canberra’s recent social history.
Home Grown: Creative Action and Community Art in Canberra, conducted in collaboration with the ACT Heritage Library, focuses on works and projects by grassroots organisations, local communities and activists. The works address social issues important to the groups in their time – from protesting Australia’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq War, homelessness, to responses to local and national politics. 
“The students were tasked with curating a small exhibition that considered community art as a form of cultural history of our city,” explains Dr Maya Haviland, convenor of the Museums and Collections specialisations in the Masters of Heritage and Museum Studies program.
“The exhibition draws on local public and private archives and collections, as well as the stories and memories of people who have been involved in a range of community art projects over the last 50 years in Canberra.”
Home Grown features contributions from artists and community groups such as the Chorus of Women, the founders of Sunday in the Park (a precursor to Floriade), and local arts organisations such as Megalo Print Studios, and the Canberra Contemporary Art Space. It’s part of a larger research project by Dr Haviland and ANU alumna and curator Dr Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak. Students drew heavily on Dr Wawrzynczak’s research in putting together the exhibition.
“Our research so far has found that very little community art is actively collected by formal collecting institutions – although we have uncovered some gems in the ACT Heritage Library,” Dr Haviland says.
“So one of the goals of this exhibition is to invite Canberrans to think about the role creative arts has played in building their experience of community here and to share objects and stories that help to tell that story.”
Visitors are encouraged to share their stories of being involved with community and collaborative art projects in Canberra, and to offer potential objects or artworks for consideration for a larger exhibition expected in 2019. 
Home Grown: Creative Action and Community Art in Canberra runs 20 October to 3 November at the ACT Heritage Library. The launch will be held on 26 October.

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