Celebrating skilled hands and shared culture

RMIT Gallery is hosting its first cross-continental online exhibition in celebration of the Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design.

Skilled Hands, Shared Culture opening on 9 November explores the important role art, craft and design practices play in sustaining culture and community in Australia and Vietnam.

Developed in partnership with RMIT’s Contemporary Art & Social Transformation (CAST) Research Group, the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Art Studies (VICAS) and Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association (VIETCRAFT), the exhibition will highlight 20 contemporary Vietnamese and Australian designers, artists and crafts people whose work contributes to supporting vibrant, sustainable communities.

Paula Toal, Head of Cultural and Public Engagement at RMIT University, said that the online exhibition was a way of responding to the challenges of delivering programming and engagement in a virtual context in response to COVID-19.

Skilled Hands, Shared Culture and the associated programs that will form part of the 2020 Vietnam Festival of Creativity and Design connect us to contemporary craft and inspire our tactile imaginations,” Toal said.

The exhibition celebrates the work of artists in Vietnam: Le Giang, Nguyễn Tấn Phát, Nguyễn Thị Dũng, Nguyễn Văn Lợi, Phạm Thị Ngọc Trâm, Thư Kim Vũ , Văn Ngô Trọng, and Australia; Claire Tracey, Grace Lillian Lee, Lindy de Wijn, Michelle Hamer, Muhubo Salieman, Slow Art Collective (Dylan Martorell & Chaco Kato), Vermin (Lia Tabrah & Perina Drummond), Vicki Couzens, Vipoo Srivilasa, Yu Fang Chi, Kieren Karritpul.

Bui Hoai Son, Director of VICAS, said that the exhibition will bring “not only exceptional ideas in the fields of art and culture, but also create opportunities for the artists to exchange, and build a stronger relationship between Vietnam and Australia.”

While these artists may not necessarily consider themselves agents of social change, the nature of their work has the power to foster a community spirit that creates a sense of belonging and self-worth and deeply impacts communities, economies, and creative expression.

According to Mark Edgoose, Senior Lecturer at RMIT, people are “re-establishing their desires to work with tangible materials. And with this re-emergence of crafting with our hands comes new and interesting projects that call upon different areas of practice and impact a variety of communities.” 

Creative teams based in Melbourne and Hanoi, including an enterprise-wide collective of RMIT student interns Monica Do(Arts Management), Carlin Stephenson (Communications), Zai Lat Naw (Design) and James Harris (Music), battled online meetings, sometimes shaky internet connections and awkward time zones to produce the unique online exhibition, digital catalogue, video and online events. 

Curatorial intern Monica Do, an MA Arts Management student, said the experience has been a real boost for her skills and confidence.

“It has also been particularly meaningful for me as a Vietnamese Australian woman to be able to be part of the developing relationship between Australian and Vietnamese artistic practices,” she said.

“Being able to have this shared experience with colleagues and leaders from both Vietnam and Australia during a time of such disconnect has shown me the capacity of the Arts to surpass physical boundaries and be a meaningful part of our daily lives.”

What: Skilled Hands, Shared Culture RMIT Gallery online.

When: 9 November – 12 March 2021

Story by Carlin Stephenson, Bachelor of Communications, RMIT Culture intern.


The Skilled Hands Shared Culture Branding depicts the coastlines of Vietnam and Victoria

Exhibition 9 Nov 2020 – 12 Mar 2021

Skilled Hands, Shared Culture

Skilled Hands, Shared Culture explores the important role art, craft and design practices play in sustaining culture and community in Australia and…