Motherland was launched by the Australian High Commissioner HE Ms Jenny Dee and the Hon Avinash Teeluck Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, in the presence of the President HE Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun and other dignitaries. This art exhibition, through the lens of 2018 Archibald Prize Finalist and 2019 Wynne Landscape Prize Finalist Robert Malherbe, celebrates the diaspora connections between Australia and Mauritius. The Australian High Commission is organizing Motherland, which will be open to the public at the Caudan Arts Center from 30 January to 16 February, as part of celebrations marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Mauritius in the year 2020.
Ms Dee said the relationship between the two countries was founded on shared values and common interests as Partners in the Indian Ocean. “Australia and Mauritius have a long history of people-to-people links with diverse, tolerant and multicultural communities a feature of our vibrant democracies,” Ms Dee said. “This unique exhibition by a leading artist from the Mauritian diaspora in Australia, Mr Malherbe, highlights the diversity of the Mauritian people and its landscape.” Mr Malherbe, who painted the exhibition in-situ over the last two weeks said “Painting for me has always been a visual memorial to our sensations. I left Mauritius a boy of 7, and I’m now returning as an artist at age 54.”
“The most exciting part of this return visit is to again see the colours, forms and character of Mauritius but through older eyes, now more skilled enough to make something of it,” he said.
Mr Malherbe’s visit included a Pamplemousses Gardens artists ‘ workshop organized by the “Ministry of Arts and pARTage” with leading and emerging Mauritian personalities whose works are also exhibited at the Caudan Arts Centre. Mr Malherbe has delivered a speech followed by a gala dinner at the Labordonnais Waterfront Hotel on 31 January as part of the culinary and cultural week for Austria “Awesome Australia.”
Motherland has received support from the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Caudan Arts Centre, Partage, Air Mauritius, Address Boutique Hotel, Radio One, l’Express Samedi, Panagora, Adamas, Reynaud Les Halles, PhoenixBev and New Horizon Wines.
Australia and Mauritius officially established diplomatic relations on 25 September 1970. In March 1984 the Australian High Commission opened in Port Louis. Australia is home to one of the world’s largest Mauritian diasporas with roughly 30,000 recorded in Australia according to 2016 census figures. Today, the Mauritian diaspora is making significant contributions across many fields to the economic development of both Australia and Mauritius. There is a long history of travel between the two countries-goods, services and people. The establishment of formal trade ties was in 1803. Mauritius is the fifth largest trading partner to Australia in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018 alone, two-way trade rose from around $400 million to over $430 million by more than 7 per cent. Exports of Australia’s services continue to grow with Mauritius, especially through education. Australia remains the most popular destination for students abroad from Mauritius. Transnational education partnerships are also expanding with the opening of the first Australian university campus in May 2018. New arrangements have emerged around education and research between Australian and Mauritian institutions with at least 10 Australian institutions providing formal linkages in Mauritius. Since 2013 to 2017 Australia ranks consistently 10th for tourist arrivals in Mauritius. There were 20,949 Australian arrivals in 2018 (source: Statistics Mauritius) Mauritian authorities list some 100 Australian firms under their global business arrangements. Two Australian fishing companies Austral Fisheries and Australian Longline Pty Ltd. harvest thousands of tons of toothfish annually in Mauritius. 2018 saw the creation of an Australian Chamber of Commerce. Australian experts collaborate with the Mauritian authorities in the fields of financial services, including fintech and research on health, sugar cane, coastal zone management, etc. Australia and Mauritius are increasingly working together in the blue economy, including through the Commonwealth and Indian Ocean Rim Organization, where both countries share a commitment to women’s economic empowerment.
Data Source: Australian Embassy (Union of Comoros & Madagascar)