I went to GOMA few days after our arrival. I heard dozens of stories from H. about how many nice exhibitions he saw here and that it was one of his favourite places when he used to live in Brisbane. So I could not wait and see it for myself!
I enjoyed visiting the building, taking my time reading through the current program booklet, browsing at the museum shop and discovering that most of the exhibitions can be visited for free. I remembered having the same happy realisation when I was a student in Luton. Whenever I went to London, the free visits at the National Gallery were the highlight of my day. It was nice to see that even here, culture is not only for those who can afford it, but for everyone.
Although I was tempted to go and see an exhibition straight away that day, I decided to wait for H. Couple of weeks later, making use of the Bonus Day — as we called the public holiday of Ekka — we planned a day in the city, including GOMA as one of our stops. We visited ‘My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia’; the unique exhibit apparently is the Gallery’s largest exhibition of contemporary art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to date.
It tells about the history and everyday life of Indigenous people as well as their connection to the country – in relation with the immigrants. The art pieces – photos, paintings, sculptures, moving-image works and installations – are about oppression, persecution and forgiveness. For me the whole subject is particularly engaging because ever since we moved here I have the enthusiasm and interest of a first grade kid, trying to learn as much as possible about my new country of residence. And I do believe that learning about stories of Indigenous people is a crucial part of my lessons here.
I also really liked how kid-friendly the exhibition was! For example I have never seen that while giving information about a work of art they also use a “child translation”, a shorter, more understandable version, which, by the way, can also be very useful for those learning English. Turns out the museum is a pioneer at organising interesting programs for the little ones, and it also runs a Children’s Art Centre with loads of interactive activities.