Learn about works of art from different regions in Asia

A Vast Emporium: Artistic exchange and innovation in a global age presents the discovery of sea routes that directly connected Europe to the maritime world of Asia enabling the creation of a global trading community. For the first time, Europeans had direct access to a wealth of luxurious commodities such as lustrous Chinese porcelain, vivid Indian textiles and elegant Japanese lacquer.

At cosmopolitan ports in Asia, artists responded to this new age of artistic and cultural exchange and created works of art combining regional techniques. These new wares were exported around the world creating the first globally recognized styles. Inversely, the influx of exotic wares adapted to suit the aristocracy of Europe inspired imitation and innovation by European artists who adapted oriental motifs for local demand and export to Asia.

This education resource highlights key works of art from our permanent collection. This resource can be used as a starting point in the classroom for students to learn about the cultural and maritime interactions between the East and the West from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries through a variety of art forms. Key themes that can be explored may include trade and art as a commodity and the expression of cultural identity.

  • Consider what the term ‘cultural exchange’ means. Discuss the possibilities for ‘cultural exchange’ between Asia and Australia in the future.
  • Document your favourite works of art in the exhibition. Where were they made? Plot their location on a map of the world.
  • Find an interesting fact about this location where the above work of art was made. Collate this information as a class – what new things did you learn?