The Bathurst Regional Art Gallery in 2014 hosted an exhibition in which it employed the innovative idea of using ‘Chinese’ artists to reflect on the Chinese-Australian history of Bathurst. The artists were a mix of Australian-born and China-born with varying degrees of knowledge of Chinese language and little or no knowledge of Chinese-Australian history before they participated in the project.
The results were an interesting range of the artistic and the historical. Most of the artists visited sites at Hill End and Sofala, though only one consulted with an historian – Meg Foster – specialising in their chosen topic – the Chinese bushranger Sam Poo. While another artist, who never left China, had his images displayed in the town of Sofala itself.
This exhibition is considered an ‘object’ not for the purposes of review – hopefully such a review will be forthcoming – but to highlight the increasing number of interpretations and re-interpretations of Chinese-Australian history that are arising – most not by historians. These re-interpretations include but are by no means limited to Young’s Lambing Flat Festival, Tasmania’s Trail of the Tin Dragon, Sydney’s Celestial City exhibition, Ballarat’s Open Monument, and a recent film on Chinese Australian history entitled The Change.