On 15 September, 2019 a function was held at the Tatura Wartime Camps Museum. The purpose was two fold: to open a new gallery and to launch the exhibition Immigration and the Refugee: The Art of Erwin Fabian.
Attended by over 100 people, the new gallery was officially opened by mayor. Kim O’Keefe. Appreciation was expressed for the generosity from the Pratt Foundation, Tatura Milk Industries, Tatura Rotary Club, Jack and Stuart Pickworth, James Crawford and major funder Greater Shepparton City Council.
The second part of the formalities was the opening of the exhibition of artworks by Dunera artist and sculptor Erwin Fabian. It was opened by Jana Wendt.
Jana Wendt talked about Erwin Fabian’s early life- referencing how he was born in 1915 in Berlin to a family of artists. Erwin, she said hoped from a young age to be an artist and studied at the School of Applied Arts in Berlin. He left for England in 1937 and eked out an existence in London designing book covers and posters. He was deported on the Dunera and interned in Hay, Orange and Tatura. In Hay he shared hut 26 with George Teltscher and Klaus Friedeberger and made life long friendships.
Jana Wendt spoke about the theme of human dignity. She said that, at this time when public discourse is becoming less and less civil, the work of artists like Erwin Fabian is much needed to remind us of our common humanity with people on society’s fringe such as refugees. Most of Erwin’s works are untitled yet they are powerful and have a great deal to say about the refugee experience.
Seumas Spark (historian from Monash University) ended the proceedings by thanking the funders of the exhibition- Gandel Philanthropy, the Besen Family foundation, Gordon Darling Foundation as well as Geirge Ferguson and the Tatura historical society. Seumas also joined everyone present in sincere gratitide to Erwin Fabian himself and his assistant Emil Toonen.
MIGRATION AND THE REFUGEE: THE ART OF ERWIN FABIAN
Erwin created a visual record of his internment using whatever materials that he could find. He later joined the 8th Employment company and was sent to the army Education Service where he illustrated army publications. After 1946 he made a living as a graphic artist first in Melbourne and then In London.
Fabian returned to Melbourne in 1962 and turned to sculpture, working mainly in metal, sometimes in wood and also plastic. He has had more than 60 exhibitions in Australia, Britain and Germany. His sculptures, drawings and paintings are held in collections public and private in Australia and Europe.
The Tatura exhibition contains both works he did while in camp in 1940 and 1941, as well as recent works on the global themes of forced migration and the experiences of refugees. Ewin has returned to the materials of ink and correction fluid on paper, not unlike his internment works in pen and ink on paper. At the age of 103 Erwin Fabian’s creativity is undimmed.
The exhibition is not to be missed. Erwin Fabian’s works can also be seen at Australia Galleries in Collingwood and the Robin Gibson Gallery