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Japan’s Chiharu Shiota is famed today for her monumental webs of red, white or black yarn, grand sculptures and performance art. But it was her first trip to Australia that fashioned this signature artistic language. Her career had almost been nipped in its infancy during her second year of art school, when she abruptly stopped creating: painting ceased to have meaning, so Shiota lost her way.

Offered the opportunity to come to Australian National University School of Art in 1993–4 as an exchange student, Shiota again struggled.


His mother called it “whispering language”. She would whisper the words of their freshwater people to her children at night, because it was part of a forbidden culture. When the welfare people came, she hid these children beneath a stockman’s house. Storytelling would be the family gift passed on to these kids, and Roy Page, the youngest of eight, told tales that inspired three of his own sons to become famous performers and storytellers.

Roy married Doreen Frances, a young Noonuccal woman whose saltwater maternal line was from Stradbroke Island but whose English–Irish marine father forbade his wife and children from celebrating their Aboriginality.




Fifty essays and dispatches on
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