Significant object heads home to Tasmania after 230 years

After a 230-year absence, a rikawa has returned to Tasmania for an exhibition with deep cultural significance.
conservator examining Aboriginal artefact

Two hundred and thirty years is a long time to be separated from your culture. This has been the case for the Palawa, Tasmanian Aboriginal people, but an exhibition at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), taypani milaythina-tu: Return to Country, is seeking to change that.

About five years in the planning, the exhibition brings together 12 objects from the UK, another from Chicago (US), as well as two culturally significant rikawa (kelp water carriers) – one of which arrived this week from France. They are the only two known rikawa in existence today; this week’s addition had been thought lost after being mislabelled for more than 100 years.

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Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina