When Taiwanese people ask me which place they should visit in Australia I always say Tasmania. It may not be as well known as Sydney or the Gold Coast, but it is a very special place.
I also frequently mention Tasmania when comparing Taiwan and Australia. Like Taiwan, Tasmania is a small island. However, while Tasmania's area is about twice that of Taiwan, its population is just 400,000 people compared with 23 million in Taiwan.
Tasmania will always be a special place in my mind as I spent a year living in Hobart while studying at the University of Tasmania. So it was with great delight and interest that I discovered there was an exhibition "From an Island South – A Joint Exhibition of Australian Artists from Tasmania" (來自南方之島 澳洲塔斯馬尼亞藝術家聯展) at the National Museum of History (國立歷史博物館) in Taipei (more information at the museum's website).
The exhibition was on the fourth floor of the museum. It was quite small featuring the works of seven artists. The piece that I found most striking was an oil painting titled, "Burnt Manferns and firebombed forest, Styx Valley" by Richard Wastell. It was particularly meaningful for me as I have visited the Styx Valley (home to some of the world's tallest trees) and seen a similar landscape devastated by logging.
The photos by David Stephenson were also interesting. They featured the landscapes created by the damming of rivers for hydroelectricity in Tasmania's wilderness areas. These landscapes evoke a sense of emptiness and loneliness.
While the exhibition is on in Taipei the Hsiao Hsi Yuan Puppet Theater (小西園掌中劇團) from Taiwan will be touring Tasmania as part of the Ten Days on the Island festival.
While at the museum I also took the time to visit some of the other exhibits. There were two that I found particularly interesting. They were "The Beauty of Traditional Taiwanese Embroidery" and Hu Nien-tsu's (胡念祖) 80th birthday exhibition. The latter featured ink-brush landscape paintings by one of Taiwan's most acclaimed artists.
detail of the National Museum of History in Taipei