Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women


Stories of the thousands of migrant women who arrived in Tasmania following World War II are now being told in a moving new exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).

Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women: A Tasmanian Experience uses family photographs and audio recordings to chronicle the experiences of migrant women from Britain and Europe who came to Tasmania between 1945 and 1975.

Along with migrant men and children, these women were part of the largest number of free migrants to arrive in such a short period of time in the island state.

Many Tasmanian migrant women worked in family businesses and in factories, and at the same time they were also the primary domestic workers in the family home, caring for and nurturing their growing families.

The exhibition explains how these women made sense of the experience of migration, and expressed feelings of longing and loss, hope and aspiration through their family photographs.

The women’s stories have been collected by University of Tasmania researcher Dr Nicolá Goc, who used snapshot photographs to assist the women – most of whom are now in their seventies and eighties – in recalling their memories of their migrant experience.

“This exhibition is an interactive and immersive experience,” Dr Goc said.

“More than just photographs on walls, it recreates the domestic spaces in which women displayed, stored and shared their family photographs.

“Post-war migrant women have received little public recognition for their contribution to Tasmanian society, and I hope this exhibition provides recognition and insight into their experiences.”

Also, accompanying the exhibition is a video display in the Argyle Foyer titled Everyone is Human: Stories of Recent Migration, which presents the stories of six migrants who have arrived in the state since 2004.

In this display visitors can view the stories of refugees fleeing violence and persecution, an aspiring Manga artist and a dynamic cricketer, all of whom now call Tasmania home. The interviews provide a deep insight into their lives and remind us that despite superficial differences everyone is human.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, as well as Harmony Week in Tasmania, TMAG will be hosting a special late night opening event on Friday 18 March.

The museum will be open until 8:30 pm with a range of entertainment provided by local migrant communities, as well as floor talks about the exhibition with Dr Goc and TMAG curator Ian Terry.

All are welcome, for more information visit the Events page.

Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women and Everyone is Human are on show at TMAG until Sunday 22 May 2016.

Image details: Ieva Saulis (L) and Rita Somers (R), whose stories feature in the Snapshot Photography and Migrant Women exhibition.