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Chinese Screen that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0286

Red silk embroidered Chinese screen, in gold painted wood frame (with cardboard backing). Mandarin ideogram translated as ‘Longevity’.

History

This screen is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.

This screen is said to have been a gift from Mr and Mrs C.T. Tsiang. Mr Tsiang was a former Ambassador of the Republic of China to Indonesia, who also taught Mandarin at Point Cook and was apparently the first person to broadcast in Mandarin on Radio Australia. In the 1940s Calwell learned some Mandarin in order to better communicate with the Australian Chinese community.

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Statement of values

This screen is significant as part of the Arthur Calwell collection, which is comprised of a selection of objects that belonged to Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49), Arthur Calwell. The collection is significant as a whole because it tells a story about a leading Commonwealth parliamentarian of the middle decades of the twentieth century and includes highly personal material which tells of Calwell’s family life, his life-long involvement in Labor politics, and his personal religious convictions. The Arthur Calwell collection at the museum uniquely links the personal with the political, thus affording an opportunity to conduct research which tells a rounded story of this important parliamentarian.

This screen is significant as evidence of Calwell’s friendships with members of the Australian Chinese community, despite his general support for maintenance of the prevailing White Australia Policy, which was a bipartisan policy supported strongly by both sides of Australian politics at the time.

Reference:

Calwell, Arthur, Be just and fear not, Victoria: Hawthorn, 1972.

Kiernan, Colm, Calwell: a personal and political biography, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1978.

  • Chinese Screen that belonged to Arthur CalwellChinese Screen that belonged to Arthur Calwell —

Details

Width 432mm
Height 787mm
Depth 20mm
Medium Silk; embroidery thread; timber; cardboard; nails; glass
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Unknown