A glimpse of the past forms base of regional exhibition

22 May 2018

A new photographic exhibition has opened at the Mount Isa Civic Centre.

University of Queensland researchers have complied an exhibition titled Meston's Wild Australia Show 1892 - 1893.

Conceived by controversial entrepreneur Archibald Meston, the original historical Wild Australia Show toured in 1892- 1893 to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and featured a choreographed troupe of 27 Aboriginal people recruited from the frontier in Queensland and the Northern Territory. The current photographic exhibition based on the original tour was first exhibited at UQ Anthropology Museum in 2015 and two of the researchers, Michael Aird and Professor Paul Memmott went on to develop a larger research project.

Professor Memmott said the original Wild Australia Show in 1892-1893 came at a critical time in colonial history when white settlers perception of Aboriginal people on the frontier was shifting from one of a threatening population justifiable of extermination, to that of a 'subject people requiring protection.

"Meston's vision for the Wild Australia Show was to be a demonstration of the superior physique and skills of the "wild" Aboriginal people, presented for the last time because of the theories of that time of their imminent "racial extinction," Professor Memmott said Meston planned for the troupe to perform in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, then to Europe and finally to Chicago for the 1893 World Fair.

Professor Memmott said he hoped the travelling exhibition would engage the descendants of troupe members in the recovery of the history of their ancestors and through this to strengthen their connection to their history and heritage.

Click here to read the whole article in the North West Star.