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Mosman Art Gallery to exhibit Dr John Yu’s unique textile collection in Jakarta this July

02 July 2018

Mosman Art Gallery is delighted to announce the tour of their acclaimed exhibition ‘Encounters with Bali: A Collector’s Journey’ to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. On show at The Museum Tekstil from 10 July to 5 August 2018, this focus exhibition presents important and rare Indonesian textiles from the distinguished collection of Dr John Yu AC, one of Australia’s leading experts on SE Asian Arts, a patron of the arts and welfare organisations and formerly Australian of the Year.

‘Encounters with Bali’ first previewed to packed audiences at Sydney’s Mosman Art Gallery in May 2014. It offered visitors a rare insight to one of the richest collections of Indonesian textiles in Australia – perhaps the most outstanding in private hands.

The collection was lovingly put together by Dr Yu and his partner, the late Dr George Soutter AM. Their interest in Indonesian textiles stems from Dr Yu’s chance encounter with an East Indonesian blue cloth at a Sydney gallery in the early 1970s to the 30 year period of collecting during annual holidays in Bali – a starting point and gateway to the rest of the archipelago.

Textiles are a guide to Indonesian culture. Rich in meanings – they are said to be Indonesia’s most significant form of artistic expression – in items of everyday, ritual and ceremony.

Traditional textiles have played integral parts in the social, spiritual, and economic lives of the peoples of Indonesia for more than 2,000 years. Created using time-honoured techniques, their rich designs display complex motifs associated with ancestors, fertility, trade, social status and wealth.

As with most collectors, Yu and Soutter’s initial curiosity quickly grew into a shared passion and then connoisseurship on the works. Coupled with their first-hand experiences on the ground, Yu and Soutter would accumulate hundreds of textiles and artefacts over the years, many rare and now valuable pieces, however their passion was always about the pleasure of collecting, not profit.

Engaging with the art and culture of the Balinese people, guided by their own research and enthusiasm and others specialist knowledge, Yu and Soutter developed a deepening appreciation for the sophistication of the different Indonesian textile traditions.

Dr John Yu AC says, “The modern state of Indonesia is based on the diversity of its people. Many do not recognise that the same diversity is reflected in its textile heritage. Throughout SE Asia textiles play a very important part in everyday life and especially in the ritual life of the people, from the courts of the rulers of the past to the traditional behaviour of Indonesians today.

I am pleased and proud that Australian galleries and museums value these textiles and contribute to the knowledge and promotion of them as important parts of the culture of our region”.

John Cheeseman, Director Mosman Art Gallery, says: “The Encounters with Bali exhibition showcases the collection of Dr John Yu AC and Dr George Souter AM, one of the most significant private collections of Indonesian textiles in the world. The exhibition demonstrates Mosman Art Gallery’s engagement with the art and culture of the ASEAN region and our commitment to develop significant international partnerships and projects”.

A major undertaking for Mosman Art Gallery, ‘Encounters with Bali: A Collector’s Journey’, is developed with the assistance of curator Dr Siobhan Campbell, a specialist in the field of Indonesian art and textiles. Dr Campbell selected outstanding highlights of the collection for display.

Encounters with Bali will be officially on opened on Tuesday 10 July 2018 by the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Gary Quinlan AO.

This project reinforces Mosman Art Gallery’s commitment to enhancing public access and awareness of private collections while celebrating Australia and Indonesia cultural relations.

Encounters with Bali exhibition catalogue features updated research on Yu Soutter collection, looking at the region, cultural group, medium, technique and subject for the selected works.

Dr John Yu AC, Dr Siobhan Campbell and Katrina Cashman (Senior Curator and Assistant Director Mosman Art Gallery), will travel to Jakarta for the installation and opening of the exhibition.


Encounters with Bali: A Collector’s Journey –

Indonesian Textiles from the collection of Dr John Yu AC and Dr George Soutter AM.

WHERE: The Museum Tekstil, Jakarta, Indonesia – Ji.Aipda KS Tubn No.2-4 Jakarta Pusat

WHEN: 10 July – 5 August 2018

INTERVIEWS: Available for comment:

Dr John Yu AC – collector

Dr Siobhan Campbell – exhibition curator

Katrina Cashman and John Cheeseman – Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia.

Media contact (Australia): Leah Haynes – M: 0408 410 483