Oceanic Artefacts and Indigenous Dance Recital

May 1, 2021

Foundation Fundraiser

A dynamic dance performance from the Torres Strait and a viewing of Sophie Mill’s diverse collection offered members a unique opportunity to connect with art. A private viewing always reveals a glimpse into the passions of the collector and Sophie Mill has many passions – everything art  from the Renaissance to the  Contemporary- but her biggest joy is to educate and enable others to partake- her attitude to art is ‘I’m bringing everyone along with me’.

Guests, relaxing in the sunshine with a glass of wine, listened to Sophie speak about Oceanic art which is now  a particular focus after the unexpected donation of a ‘truckload’ of artefacts- the residue of a bequest to The University of Newcastle through the late Peter and Senta Hendry. Sophie believes this art- much of it from the Sepik River- is best understood in places of movement and productivity rather than in a ‘static white space’ and has placed her artworks to maximize interaction. She asked guests to consider that Oceanic art is concerned with function first rather than simply being art for art’s sake. A dance recital followed performed by members of the Whaleboat family whose origin- as well as the late activist Eddie Mabo- is the small Torres Strait island of Mer.

After an explanation of each dance, the drumming started up on elongated and fabulously blue boro-boro-drums. Toby sang the dances while Ebo –so beautifully light on his feet- moved through several performances including the South Wind rustling in coconut palms, the dragonfly (the Whaleboats’ personal connection to country) and hunting with bow and arrow. These celebrations of the natural rhythms and beauty of Mer were mesmerising and powerful!

After the dance performance we were invited to look through Sophie’s teaching studio, the compact Tiny Museum, the garden statuary and house artworks. It felt like a party-much movement and productivity!

Image: L>R: Catering at event, Sophie Mill with Ebo Whaleboat, Dance recital in garden of Sophie Mill