- Australians in PNG media release
- Australians in PNG events brochure
- Eric Bridgeman: The fight exhibition labels
Australians in PNG | Eric Bridgeman: The fight
12 August 2017 to 8 October 2017
Australians in PNG highlights the ongoing importance of Papua New Guinea as a subject in the history of Australian photography. Featuring major new bodies of work by Eric Bridgeman, Stephen Dupont and Sonia Payes, this suite of exhibitions, Eric Bridgeman: The fight, Stephen Dupont: Piksa Niugini and Sonia Payes: Terra mysteria acknowledges the complexity and significance of Australia’s involvement with its closest neighbour.
Eric Bridgeman’s recent work revolves around the painted battle shields that were once central to men’s culture in the Wahgi Valley of the PNG highlands. The various tribes that live around the Wahgi River have a long history of engaging in intergroup battles, as a means of dealing with disputes and maintaining social order. The painted battle shields were an important feature of this ritualised form of Melanesian politics. As well as providing protection, the painted shields functioned as both personal insignia (symbolising the owner’s identity) and as optical devices for distracting and confusing opponents. Having inherited the rite to design ritual shields from his grandfather, who was a respected warrior, Bridgeman has worked with his family and friends in the Highlands to revitalise the shields within a contemporary context.
Eric Bridgeman (1986-) is a Brisbane-based contemporary artist with a particular interest in photographic portraiture and multi-media art. Since completing a Bachelor of Photography at Queensland College of Art in 2010, he has regularly exhibited new bodies of work and participated in group exhibitions around Australia. His work often explores the significance of race in contemporary Australian culture, drawing on his own colonial-indigenous heritage; his father is of English decent and his mother is from the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Bridgeman spends extended periods of time living and working in the Eastern and Western Highlands of PNG, and identifies as a member of the Yuri Alaiku clan of the Chimbu Province.