Cross-cultural Kindness spreads to Melbourne

There is perhaps no better way of understanding other cultures than by their art, and Melbourne audiences will have the chance to view work by more than 140 writers, visual artists and musicians from Australian and India when an RMIT Gallery touring exhibition opens at the Swanston Street gallery this week.

Kindness/Udarta. Australia-India Cultural Exchange (29 June ”“ 25 August) is the cornerstone of a project in both India and Australia to celebrate 20 years of cultural exchanges between visual artists, writers and musicians supported by the Australia-India Council.

The contributing artists represent a significant sample of creative people who have experienced each other’s culture, visited each other’s country, worked together and built relationships based on friendship and mutual respect.

Contributors to Kindness/Udarta include Thomas Keneally, Alexis Wright, Les Murray, Robyn Beeche, Callum Morton and Jenny Watson; and high-profile Indian artists Haku Shah, Giriraj Prasad, Nalini Malani, Seema Kohli, Bharti Kher, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Pradyumna Kumar and Ranbir Singh Kaleka.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies, who curated the exhibition, said the exchange of ideas and influences between cultures ”“ as well as the necessity of intercultural sensitivity as the basis of cultural exchange ”“ were the most effective ways of enhancing relationships between countries.

“The range of images and writing in the exhibition ”“ some created especially, others pre-existing ”“ is extraordinary, reflecting the openness and diversity of the initial cultural exchanges,” Ms Davies said.

“The concept of ”˜kindness’, which permeates the exchanges, is ostensibly simple and compelling, yet generates vastly different responses given its variable connotations in different contexts. The sum of the entire project is a beautifully presented statement of creative goodwill.”

Kindness/Udarta. Australia-India Cultural Exchange was inaugurated in New Delhi on 16 March by Dr Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

The exhibition toured to Canberra, where it was opened by Senator Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs, as part of the Australia-India Council’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

A special Indian cultural celebration will be held at RMIT Gallery on Thursday, 2 August (6pm-8pm), featuring musicians Vinod Prasanna (bansuri ,Indian bamboo flute) and Kate Tempany (Indian tabla), and celebrated authors Kiran Nagakar  and Christopher Kremmer. The event is free, bookings essential: (03) 9925 1717.

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