New exhibition offers window to life and times of migrant women in post-war Tasmania

Nicola Goc

Photographs are windows to our world and a new exhibition is providing an intimate view of the life and times of migrant women in post-war Tasmania.

Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women: A Tasmanian Experience is an immersive, multi-faceted exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) featuring thousands of photographs displayed across four purpose-built period rooms.

Visitors have the chance to see and hear first-hand how migrant women viewed their new life in Tasmania, expressing their thoughts and feelings on hope, love, longing and loss through family photographs.

“Women were the visual gatekeepers in the family,” exhibition creator and University of Tasmania senior lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communications Dr Nicolá Goc said. “The photographs offered a connection from where they came from, and also an opportunity to capture and communicate their new lives in Tasmania.

“Photos of births, marriages, new business ventures, family outings through to sadder events such as the passing of a loved one reflect cultural traditions and customs of the time.”

Over the past three years, Dr Goc spoke to 50 migrant women who arrived in Tasmania during the 1950 and ’60s from all corners of the globe, including Poland, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Greece, England and Latvia.

Post-war, thousands of migrant women from Britain and Europe arrived in Tasmania, and along with migrant men and children they were part of the largest number of free migrants to arrive in such a short period of time in Tasmania.

The exhibition’s photographs are featured in four period rooms – 1950s kitchen, 1970s sitting room, 1950s/60s sitting room and a 1960s/70s bedroom – each reflecting the home environment of migrant women.

Through audio and visual digital displays visitors can hear migrant women retelling their experiences through their family photographs.

Also part of the exhibit is a video display, Everyone is Human: Stories of Recent Migration, which tells the stories of six migrants who have arrived in the state since 2004.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the University and TMAG. It is supported with a 2015-16 Tasmanian Community Fund grant.

The exhibition opens today (Friday, March 18) and runs until May 22.

This story originally appeared in News@UTAS

Dr Nicola Goc is an Affiliated Researcher with the Institute for the Study of Social Change.

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