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The ACE Project: Creating space/s
By Osanna Fa'ata'ape and Moale James (ACE Writers)


Healing the spirit of collections
By Moale James (ACE Catalyst, Writer and Project-Assistant)


Returning home
By Osanna Fa'ata'ape (ACE Writer)


Reflecting on the Australian Centre of Asian and Pacific Art Community Engagement Project:

The funding graciously provided by the Australian Council of the Arts also supplemented my role in this project, which allowed me to be more involved than I originally would have been. In this project I worked as Project Assistant to a a fantastic Mentor and Project Co-ordinator, Ruha Fifita. For over two years we embarked on a journey we couldn't have anticipated.

The project aimed to explore how we can foster meaningful relationships between local Pacific Islander community and the state-institution, the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art.

Ruha and I brought together a group of Catalysts - Iree Chow, Timothy Harm , Sarai Tafa, Daniel Utiku-Roberts, Jori Etuale and myself included. The role of these Catalysts was to facilitate reflection spaces with all involved in this process. Alongside our team were Content Creators - Joella Warkill and Jaelyn Biumaiwai; and Writers Osanna Fa'ata'ape and again, I took up another role as a writer. This was our core team, a group of like-minded, creatives and individuals recognised by our Pacific Islander community as advocates for change, Pasifika wellbeing and success. 

Using our connected networks we then reached out to local community groups and individuals to design a series of activation spaces that fostered intentional, reciprocal, honest and authentic relationships. We wanted the gallery to feel like an approachable and safe space for our communities to visit and engage with. We wanted to elevate our artwork, voices and ways of practicing and preserving culture to become apart of curatorial practice. And finally, we wanted to embed our cultural perspectives, language and ways of living into the exhibition development and public programs. 

A series of questions led our study. These questions were developed by the QAGOMA Curatorial, Learning and Public Programs departments:

1/  How do we modify and value add to an existing contemporary art learning space, with a focus on creating a culturally-safe environment for intergenerational learning and exchange? 

2 / How do we utilise existing relationships with members of the local Pacific communities and build new relationships – in order to collaborate and work together to present Public Programs for general audiences and Pacific audiences?

3 / How can we more effectively understand, incorporate, uphold, convey and celebrate Pacific values in the way that we engage with artists, communities and audiences? What role can Pasifika diaspora communities play in translating Pasifika values and knowledge frameworks to wider audiences?


How  do I begin to explore and share all of what we have learned over these two-years?  I can say for certainty that for all those involved we left with a lifetime of learning that - without this project - we could not have obtained.  For the sake of this reflection I would like to explore the conversations and interactions I had  during the core-team reflection day.



Photo Credit: Katie Bennett (2021-22); Mark Pricop  (2021-22);  Joe Ruckli (2021-22); Chloe Callistemon (2021-22); Natasha Harth (2021-22)

Photo Credit: Joe Ruckli (2021) "Installation views, labels in language" QAGOMA

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