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Case Studies Participation in PAAXII International Symposium, Brisbane and Port Vila | RAF Case Study (2019)

A Quick Response Grant recipient, via the Regional Arts Fund, as managed by Flying Arts Alliance.

John Armstrong, Arts Centre Manager at Mirndiyan, was supported by a Regional Arts Fund Quick Response Grant to travel from Mornington Island, Qld to Brisbane and Port Vila, Vanuatu to participate in the Pacific Arts Association International Symposium (PAAXII).

Mornington Island Arts is actively fostering the preservation and transmission of traditional crafts and practices, and are hopeful of establishing an Indigenous Knowledge Centre on Mornington Island. John Armstrong's participation in the symposium expanded the opportunities and connections among remote island artists and craftspeople with tangible benefits for Mornington Island Arts.

John travelled to Port Vila for a pre-symposium where he participated in panel discussions about key issues relating to the arts of the Pacific. The Vanuatu conference was also a chance to engage with kastom, meet local artists and cultural workers, and experience the town and contemporary arts scene.

The Brisbane part of the symposium took place on the lands of the Yugerra and Turrbal Peoples, near the Maiwar (the river) on Kurilpa Point, the place of the water rat. They created a respectful place to engage with one another, exchange ideas and explore the major theme for the symposium, resilience.

Through sharing arts, cultural and curatorial practice participants created a better understanding about the role Pacific contemporary art is playing in maintaining, reviving and connecting Indigenous cultural practices on the global stage. This connects to the ability of past and present Pacific peoples to sustain their cultural integrity and to adapt creatively to new circumstances.

John was able to explore the uniqueness, similarities and differences of island communities and relate his experiences to practical outcomes and networking for Mornington Island Arts. The maintenance and transmission of Traditional Language and Culture are key focus areas of concern with Community Elders and Leaders. The thematics of the Conference ‘Resilience: sustaining, re-activating and connecting culture' and 'Making Connections - artists, objects and histories' provided insights and guidance to address this as well as links to scholars and researchers in the field.

The variety and depth of presentations provided good opportunities for expanding the reach and effectiveness of the creative activities on Mornington Island. Armstrong shared his learnings and connections with the 14 member Art Centres of the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance at the May 2019 IACA Conference.


  • Developed new skills and knowledge: The connections with Pacific Nations gave a new context for the activities in Mornington Island. The exposure to current Museum collection practices was very important.
  • Sharing the initiatives from across the Pacific and FNQ enabled not just good networks to be established but, at a higher level, expanded John’s understanding of the issues around Cultural Resilience and ways to maintain and disseminate important cultural practices.
  • Developed new professional networks: Strong connections made with European, North American, Pacific and Australian museum professionals.
  • Developed new markets: Strong interest from European and North American institutions to add MI artworks to their collections. Major museum in Texas want to add MI artworks to their collection
  • Establishment of an artists exchange program with Vanuatu painters and weavers and FNQ artists
  • Morninton Island is now included in QPAC's Yawar cultural mapping project.
  • Participation in QPAC's Yawar project in second half of 2019.
  • Started discussions with Sydney Opera House for Mornington Island dancers to feature at 2023 50th Anniversary celebrations.
  • Potential for significant economic returns to Mornington Island artists from future sales.

Applicant location: Mornington Island, Qld

Project Location: Port Vila, Vanuatu and Brisbane, Qld

Amount of RAF support: $3000

Total project cost: $6000

PAXXII Contemporary Weaving Vanuatu
PAXXII Contemporary Weaving Vanuatu