ACT News


Australian War Memorial hosting young artists

 Artists Debbie Ding and Angela Tiatia are an interesting pair. Vibrant, engaging, modern women they almost seem out of place in the cloistered dark corners of the Australian War Memorial.

They have come together on a joint project, an artist-in-residency program set up by the AWM and the National Museum of Singapore, that will result in a body of work that will explore the shared wartime experience of the two countries.

The program is being supported by the Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund, through the Department of Communications and the Arts, and the Singapore Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Ding is a London-based, Singapore-born visual artist, who likes to call herself a "technologist" as well. Her computer-aided investigations interpret subjects, looking at how we see them via technology, and how our views of them may differ.

Tiatia is a multimedia artist who explores contemporary culture, drawing attention to its relationship to representation, gender, neo-colonialism and the commodification of the body and place.

Looking at their bodies of work the artists seem quite incongruous. Ding's work is modern and sharp, while there is a sensuality to Tiatia's work, bodies and movement and statements about gender.


But they can't believe how well they're getting on. They laugh together, stand close when their photograph is being taken in front of a painting depicting the fall of Singapore.

"And we're quite excited to see where the finished product is going to take us," Ding says. "When we're talking about it, exchanging ideas, Angela's work is fascinating."

Tiatia travelled to Singapore in April and now Ding is enjoying her time in Canberra. She was excited to discover the original Changi Chapel in Canberra.

"I was very puzzled," she said.

"Why hadn't I heard that the original structure of the Changi Chapel was in Australia?

"Not once did I read in any book, pamphlet or material in Singapore that the 'original' Changi Chapel was in Canberra."

The pair had visited Singapore's Changi Museum together in April, where they viewed a simple modest wooden replica. Ding was surprised to learn that the original chapel was transported to Australia in 1947 and in 1988 was reconstructed at the Royal Military College in Duntroon.

Tiatia is interested in exploring how women are represented in wartime, how social practice is viewed, and where they might fit it.

When I suggest that it's great that two young women, of mixed ethnic background - Tiatia has some Samoan heritage - are here coming together to create art in a place where, with all due respect, most of the art has probably been created by old white men, they both smile.

"Yes, it is," says Tiatia. "And we are both so grateful to be given this chance."