Connect : Connect Magazine July 2012 Edition
11 Solomon Islanders themselves. Tasmanian photographer John Beattie also came here in 1906 and many of his images are now held either in the collection of the Church of Melanesia or in museums in faraway places. And it was also through PAMBU that I have accessed another collection taken by Australian missionary, Reverend John Metcalfe, who was based here in the 1920s. All these images provide a rich photographic survey of early colonial history and in many cases, documents traditional ways of cultures long since ‘westernised’. Likewise, the film program provides an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of Australia’s support for Solomon Islands arts in the past. A series of 10 documentary films were made back in the 70s and 80s by Film Australia with assistance from AusAID forerunner, the Australian Development Assistance Bureau. These films record many of the customs, the culture and the arts of the Solomon’s at a time when they were being lost in the transition from British colonial protectorate to modern nation state. Again, these films have spent most of their life in humidity controlled rooms and the National Film and Sound Archives have kindly provided copies of these audio-visual treasures to screen at the festival. It is a nice demonstration of how government support over 30 years ago, coupled with continued efforts to preserve and archive audio-visual history, are re-invigorated by the present day volunteer program and all come together to provide the people of the Solomon’s with a chance to reflect upon their own culture and help build that shared cultural heritage so important to the national narrative. And perhaps that helps answer the question ‘what do the arts have to do with development?’ Whereas governance, infrastructure, health, and economic projects are, for good reason, the coalface of development, the arts encourage a culture to reflect upon their shared circumstances, ask questions about their communal future and celebrate their heritage. The Solomon Islands is a young nation born of a diverse people from a multitude of tribal roots. So encouraging the notion of shared cultural pride is imperative for this young country. Indeed it was only 10 or so years ago that internal ethnic tensions threatened to tear this place apart. In short, the arts help develop an inclusive national narrative. A story that is as important in binding a country together as government and roads and hospitals and jobs.
Connect Magazine November 2012
Connect March 2012