China’s One-Child Policy told in powerful new play

Bistro Vue - Tim Grey

In 2016, China’s One-Child Policy officially came to an end, and according to the Chinese government, the policy prevented about 400 million births.

The One-Child Policy also produced so-called little emperors – a generation of only children, adored and doted on by both parents and two sets of grandparents.

A new play at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre, called Little Emperors, draws on true stories to explore the emotional fallout of China’s One-Child Policy.

I produced this story for Books and Arts on ABC RN, and you can listen to it here.

Haunted by the Fukushima earthquake

Arts House – Asia TOPA_chelfitsch – Times Journey Through a Room (9 – 12 Feb 2017)_Image # 5_Elke Van den Ende.jpg

In 2011, a catastrophic earthquake hit Japan.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to hit Japan, triggering tsunami waves and causing level 7 meltdowns at the Fukushima Nuclear power plant.

It killed somewhere between 18 and 20 thousand people.

A new play called Time’s Journey Through a Room looks at the emotional scars left by this disaster.

I produced this interview for ABC RN’s Books and Arts, and you can listen to the story here.

Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers

Cameroonian author Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel Behold the Dreamers is a story of immigration, families, wealth and the American Dream.

It follows Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant who gets a job for Clark Edwards, an executive at Lehman Brothers.

Jende’s job draws him, his wife Neni and their son into the privileged world of the New York City elite.

When Clark’s wife Cindy Edwards offers Neni work and takes her into her confidence, the fault lines in the Edward’s family threaten to destabilise the Jonga family too.

I spoke to Imbolo for Books and Arts on ABC RN, and you can hear the interview here.

Closure or nothing


In March 2011, Rachel Funari disappeared from Bruny Island, Tasmania.

Rachel was an intelligent, vivacious American who had been living in Australia since 2001.

Her disappearance was one of the highest profile missing persons cases in Tasmania’s recent history, and prompted an extensive land, sea and air search.

No trace of her has ever been found.

For RN’s documentary features program, Earshot, I retrace Rachel’s last steps, and speaks to her family about they have come to terms with her disappearance.

You can listen to the story here.

Young Australian artists on show at MCA

Each year, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, or the MCA, stages an exhibition called Primavera, which showcases the best young Australian artists.

Primavera 2016 explores ideas of transmission, and in particular the idea that meaning is created in the body first, and not the brain.

I travel to the MCA to explore the exhibition, and meet curator Emily Cormack and two of the participating artists, Pia van Gelder and Biljana Jancic.

I produced this story for ABC RN’s Books and Arts, and you can listen to the story here.

Fluid collaborations between Guangzhou and Sydney

An artwork called Mr Humidifier is bringing the humidity of the Chinese megacity of Guangzhou to an art gallery in Sydney – quite literally.

The Hong Kong-based artist Trevor Yeung has used a dehumidifier to condense the sticky summer heat of Guangzhou into water, and that water is being used to steam up a the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

It’s the result of a collaboration between 4A and the Guangzhou Observation Society, one of China’s most exciting contemporary art project spaces.

Trevor and the Sydney-based artist Lucas Ihlein have spent time in both cities, and the work they have made during those residencies is now on display at 4A in Sydney.

Lucas’ work also deals with water, mapping how climate change induced sea level rises might affect Guangzhou and the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which is one of the most densely urbanised places in the world.

I spoke to Lucas and Trevor for ABC RN’s Books and Arts and you can listen to the interview here.

The Art of Giving: Dr Gene Sherman AM

IMG_0315-Recovered35 years ago, a young South African academic called Gene Sherman lost her job teaching French at the University of Sydney, when the university shifted its focus from European to Asian languages.

Even though she was devastated, Gene thought if you can’t beat them, join them!

When she opened a commercial art gallery, Gene decided to specialise in contemporary Asian art, after falling in love with Japan art, culture and fashion.

She ran Sherman Galleries, one of the most influential commercial galleries in Australia, for 21 years.

In 2008, she reopened the gallery as the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to contemporary art from Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

For my Books and Arts series on Australian art philanthropists, I met Dr Gene Sherman AM in the zen garden at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Sydney. You can listen to the story here.