Celebrations: Spirit of Communities
People have migrated to Australia from all over the world and brought with them their familiar celebrations to mark important public and private occasions. Mostly these are stages in human life that all of us go through: birth, puberty, adulthood, marriage, death.
But in between these milestones fall other events: each village, town and city creates its own celebrations that announce to each other and to visitors: 'This occasion is what makes us unique'.
Many communities in Wollongong have made celebrations. They have brought them from other places and changed them to fit with a new place, new seasons, new neighbours. Other celebrations have been born right here, to make a special time and place for people to come together and say: 'This is also us. We have changed, but we are still unique.'
In September 2003, the Migration Heritage Project (MHP) put together the Celebrations: Spirit of Communities Exhibition at the Wollongong City Gallery, which was made possible by funding from The IMB Community Foundation, a grant from Community and Cultural Services Wollongong City Council and a grant from Viva La Gong.
The Exhibition was also made possible with in-kind support from Wollongong City Gallery, Downstairs Graphic Design, Community and Cultural Services Wollongong City Council, Multicultural Services Wollongong City Council, Faculty of Creative Arts University of Wollongong, Carnivale and Powerhouse Museum Regional Services Unit. The exhibition was curated by Linda Raymond, Museum Consultant & Interpretation Specialist.
The exhibition development was managed by the Migration Heritage Project Officer and members of the Migration Heritage Project. The exhibition installation was by Linda Raymond, Wollongong City Gallery staff, Ken Hamilton, cultural groups and members of the Migration Heritage Project and Kath Walters.
The design of the exhibition panels was developed and produced by Downstairs Graphic Design. The exhibition design was developed by masters' student, Delphi Dib-Milston and Joshua Beggs under the supervision of Gregor Cullen at the Faculty of Creative Arts University of Wollongong. Their design service was provided through their business Downstairs Graphic Design.
The Migration Heritage Project gratefully acknowledges the support and commitment of the community, community organisations and individuals who had generously contributed their expertise, time, stories and objects for the exhibition.
Communities make celebrations and celebrations make communities
The Exhibition featured five Wollongong Communities: Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Macedonian.
Exhibition images can be viewed here: Celebrations section
The Vietnamese exhibition panels featured the Moon Festival for children and the First House which is celebrated by families moving into their first home. The Vietnamese exhibition items on display included an ancestor altar which is in every house and ranges from very simple to elaborate; lanterns locally made and used in the Moon Festival; a red silk lantern from Hoi An; and, moon cakes and moon cake moulds.
The Greek, including Cypriot Greek, celebrations panels displayed in the exhibition were Independence Day and Easter. The Greek display also included hand decorated Easter Eggs; a kandile and incense burner used during daily ritual; a boy's Greek costume hand made in Wollongong; and, a bread stamp handed down from owner's grandmother.
Italian cultural life in Wollongong was explored through Ballo Nazionale and Chestnut day which were featured on exhibition panels. The Italian displays included a hand tailored ball gown "Elvis dress" designed by Gino Chiodo; a cake showing the regions of Italy by Tonitto's Cakes; champagne glasses for the 28th anniversary of Italian Social Welfare; a menu from the most recent Ballo Nazionale held at the Fraternity Club; a Torrone (nougat) made in Italy; a locally hand made chestnut roaster; and, two silk flags brought from Sienna.
One of Wollongong's many cultures is Portuguese - from the mainland and from the islands of Madeira and the Azores. Many people migrating from Portugal have settled in the southern suburbs and two clubs are established - the South Coast Portuguese Association in Warrawong and the Kemblawarra Club in Port Kembla. The exhibition panels featured the Flower Marcahs. This display included two Baby Jesus figures used in a family Christmas celebration - one handed down within the family from Portugal and one imported from Spain and blessed at the Warrawong Catholic Church; a table setting on a hand embroidered tablecloth with crockery, cutlery and decorated glass handed down from mother to eldest daughter, home made Christmas table decoration and Portuguese ornaments; hand made flower arches used in traditional dances performed by local junior and youth folkloric groups.
The Macedonian culture in Wollongong was represented in this exhibition. The celebrations included are a Macedonian wedding spanning two continents and patron days (villages) and name days (instead of birthdays). The displays included were a Macedonian hand made best dress used as a wedding dress; christening candles; books and postcards brought to Australia by the bride in place of a dowry; an American gramophone; a bread stamp belonging to the owner's mother and brought from Macedonia.
Exhibition images can be viewed here: Celebrations section or may be viewed from the Exhibition Images in the Projects dropdown menu