Defining Moments: Founding of Gallery 4A

Mon 26 Oct 2020

This is a past program.
Available as video and podcast

Lecture title: Founding of Gallery 4A and the inaugural exhibition in 1997

Speaker: Dr Mikala Tai

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is an initiative of the Asian Australian Artists’ Association Inc. (4A), a non-profit organisation established in 1996 to present and promote the work of Asian and Asian-Australian artists. This organisation was established by a group of artists who sought to highlight the cultural contribution of Asian migration to Australia and to develop Asian and Australian cultural relations.

The Asian Australian Artists’ Association launched Gallery 4A in 1997 on Sussex Street in Sydney’s Chinatown. 4A launched with an exhibition featuring three Asian-Australian artists: Emil Goh, Lindy Lee and Hou Leong. Curated by Melissa Chiu, 4A’s first curator and director, the exhibition considered the breadth and depth of contemporary Asian- Australian practice.

In this lecture Dr Mikala Tai will consider this inaugural exhibition and the context in which 4A launched and has continued to expand and thrive within.

Dr Mikala Tai is the Director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, and a curator, researcher and academic specialising in contemporary Asian art and Australian design. Tai has collaborated with local, national and international organisations to strengthen ties between Australia and Asia. As an academic Tai has lectured at both RMIT and the University of Melbourne, and devised and delivered the inaugural Contemporary Asian Art syllabus at RMIT (2012 – ) and the first China Fieldwork Course (2015 – ) with Rebecca Coates and Kate McNeill at the University of Melbourne. Tai was the founder and director of Supergraph – Australia’s Contemporary Graphic Art Fair, which has been held twice at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne and exhibited at Somerset House, London (2015). Tai currently sits on the board of BUS Projects, Melbourne. 


ACCA’s Lecture Series, Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999, will take a deeper look at the moments that have shaped Australian art since 1968. In the second year of this two-year series, seven more guest lecturers will analyse the game changers in Australian art, addressing key contemporary art exhibitions staged over the last three decades of the twentieth century and reflecting on the ways these exhibitions shaped art history and contemporary Australian culture more broadly.

Ambitious, contested, polemical, genre-defining and genre-defying, contemporary art exhibitions have shaped and transformed the cultural landscape, along with our understanding of what constitutes art itself. This program traces the legacies of artists and curators, addresses the critical reception of selected significant projects, and reflects on a wide range of exhibitions and formats; from artist run initiatives to institutions, as well as interventions in public space and remote communities.

This two-year series is presented in association with Abercrombie & Kent and Research Partner, Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) at The University of Melbourne and supported by Art Guide Australia, The Saturday Paper, Triple R, The Melbourne Gin Company, Capi and the City of Melbourne.


As ACCA is currently closed to support public health measures we will be recording our entire 2020 season and releasing all lectures online as freely available videos and podcasts on ACCA’s website and promoted across our social media channels.

A bespoke cocktail recipe created by The Melbourne Gin Company using Capi will be available alongside each lecture. We  encourage you to make the cocktail with us.


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