Migration SeriesMigration Series

This International project demonstrates how diverse communities throughout the world could be brought together and interconnected by art and the narrative vice of personal experience.

This exhibition traces the development of a series of work begun in 1990 by Australian artist Stephen Copland. The inspiration for this work was his grandmother's diary, letters, a postcard alnbum and embroidery made in Cuba in 1907. The diary was written in 1911 on arrival in melbourne from Cuba and subsequent passage to Dunedin. Her family, from El Mina, Tripoli, migrated to Cuba in 1887 and then to Melbourne and New Zealand.

Copland's artwork on this material began in 1992 when he exhibited 'Julia' at 24HR Northern Territory Contemporary Art Space, a series of 75 collages and a handmade book. This exhibition caused Copland to consider the possibilities of tracing his forbear's migration experience through a series of exhibitions in Australia and overseas in locations related to Julia’s story.

In 1993, Copland took an exhibition of forty collages and three handmade books to Cuba with an exhibition titled: 'Suspiros y Ansias', (trans. Sighs and Anxieties); >); to the Fayad Jamis Galeria, Havana. Then in Dunedin, NZ in 1995 at the Settlers Museum, (a museum devoted to sociological aspects of culture), he exhibited; 'Julia-an exile in love'.

Translating these experiences into a visual record of the artists personal reconstruction of cultural roots, as well as acknowledging some aspects common to migrant experience, as expressed in Julia's diary, Copland exhibited, 'Julia's diary - An immigrants story'. in 1999 at the Immigration Museum, Melbourne. Later that year Copland, with assistance from the Australian government, took this exhibition to Lebanon, (Beirut and Tripoli) as part of the 1999 UNESCO cultural festival.

In 2001 Copland Copland was invited to exhibit in East of Somewhere at Casula Powerhouse. An exhibition which gave the opportunity to draw a larger experiential map of his travel in Lebanon; an exercise which completed the circle for the project and strenghtened personal, community and cultural connections.

During the period various exhibitions were shown which grew out of these journey's and dealt in a more general way with the context of migration which sought to develop ideas common to the experience in visual form. Exhibitions with titles such as 'Memories and Displacement' shown at 1st Draft, Sydney in 1994, 'Landscape and Memories', Susan Burge Gallery, Sydney in 1997, and 'Ocean', Nonntal Gallery Salzburg, Austria 1999, addressed this theme.

It is intended that The Migration Series exhibition will include heritage material, selected paintings, collages, objects and documentation from the national and international venues.

The motivation for this exhibition, which can be experienced on many levels, functions as; part contemporary art, part social history, part heritage, part migration history and part community art.

It is intended as a cultural production which seeks to broaden the capacities of communities to facilitate personal engagement with the migrant experience. It's aim is to enhance social connectedness and foster connections which develop links within new and existing community members. In this way it seeks to encourage personal understandings between new migrants and members of mainstream communities.

In this regard, an aspect of our mission is to execute motivation of the community to develop a sense of welcome in a spirit of generosity within community towards new members and foster a capacity or pattern of connectedness within community rather than difference.

The philosophy behind Copland's project reveals how the artist as narrator seeks to attempt to find answers to questions about life. By drawing together historical threads, and weaving a pattern through time and space to address aspects of who we are we become linked through human understandings. In the case of the migrant experience he asserts that by recording and sharing historical and personal narrative acts as a reconstructing device providing a starting point to self-awareness and connectedness. The ritual of creative effort may assist in coming to terms with loss.

Meredith Brice - Curator

Catalogue and CDROM The Migration Series is available on request

The Migration Series 1992-2002 was exhibited at

New England Regional Gallery and Art Museum
The Muse Ultimo College Sydney
Gosford Regional Gallery and Arts Centre
Orange Regional Gallery

You may also like to view the Migration Series Catalogue.

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