Wanda Gillespie (fabricated with craftsmen in Jatiwangi, Magalengka, Indonesia as part of an Asialink residency, Arts Victoria cultural exchange, and MFA by research project at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne).
John Fries Memorial Prize, Gaffa Galleries, Sydney, 2012 City of Hobart Art Prize, Tasmania Museum, 2012 Westspace Gallery Melbourne, 2010 Seventh Gallery, Melbourne, 2009 Jatiwangi Art Factory, Indonesia, 2009, The 22nd Asian International Art Exhibition, Bandung, Indonesia, 2007
Very little is known of the small volcanic island, Tana Swiwi, deep in the Java Sea. Many believe it to have sunk in a volcanic eruption 800 years ago. Ancient texts from the royal scribes of the kingdom of Srivijaya, foretold an explosion of stars around the location of the island in roughly 1100 CE. Later, Chinese inscriptions dated sometime between the T'ang and Ming dynasty mention the travels of Yijing, a young Chinese pilgrim who dedicated his life to translating Buddhist text from Sanskrit into Chinese. After many months in the kingdom of San-fo-t'si, he was reported to depart to a mythic island deep in the Java Sea. Little is known of his fate though many propose he reached the island, a half way place between reality and the afterlife where humans fly and inanimate objects take on human or animal attributes. Many local Indonesians propose Tana Swiwi's true nature to be that of the famous Yava Island, a mythic woodland island occupied by immortals. Current researchers believe the island carried the practice of worshipping alternative spirits through the decoration of functional objects. While differing gods are accounted for, it is concluded that they are various incarnations of the one being.
The diary of a Dutch colonial settler, amateur archaeologist and Sunday painter, Jasper Van der Velden (b 1801), was found hidden in the wall of an old building in Cirebon, West Java. They present old photographs and texts validating the existence of artefacts from the lost island of Tana Swiwi. Van der Velden served as a key board member on the Commission for the Discovery, Collection, and Conservation of Ancient Objects in Jakarta in 1822, before it eventually disbanded. Most members were fairly amateur; localized and descriptive explanations of artefacts were often accompanied by mythological explanations of their background.
A team of researchers from the Museum of Lost Worlds studying the area have now re-created objects from excavated fragments and the decrepit photographs and drawings found in Van der Velden's diary. The re-creation of a traditional Tana Swiwi ceremony indicates one of the objects' possible functions in ritualistic practices.
The Museum of Lost Worlds
A former secret service agent founded The Museum of Lost Worlds in 2006. While searching for a nameless assassinator, the agent came across documents confirming the existence of a number of forgotten worlds. His position was soon dismissed and he continues to research these lands with a growing team of dedicated geographers and archaeologists in a secret hideout north of Melbourne. Due to the potential mass hysteria caused by the uncovering of these worlds and their controversial nature - the museum, rather than finding a permanent space, exhibits in one off shows (also known as "uncoverings") around the world.