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Beads link Commonwealth in new exhibition

9 AUGUST 2006

The creative use of beads across Commonwealth nations over many centuries is explored in a new exhibition opening at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra tomorrow.

Beaded Links features a comprehensive collection of beaded jewellery, costume and religious and ritual artefacts.

Highlights include 16th century glass beads from Nigeria, rosary beads which belonged to Cardinal George Pell's great grandmother, a beaded dress from the personal collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and an elaborate costume worn by one of London's Pearly Kings in the 1930s.

Curator Jumoke Debayo, who has been collecting beads since childhood, said Beaded Links was inspired by her fascination in the common heritage of beads used for spiritual, cultural, political, environmental and economic purposes.

'Look around you and beads are everywhere,' Ms Debayo said. 'Beaded costume and jewellery have always been valued for their decorative qualities and as indicators of status and wealth. Beads are also represented in many religions, and an exhibition on the uses of beads seemed a good way to tie together a story about the diversity and similarities of people in the Commonwealth nations.'

Media are invited to attend a Beaded Links preview at 10am tomorrow, Thursday, 10 August, in the National Museum of Australia's First Australians Focus Gallery.

The exhibition traces the making and trading of beads over many centuries and is rich in symbolism, exploring the use of beads across religions, and several contemporary works. Precious materials on show in the exhibition include pearls from the Pacific, rubies from Pakistan and exquisite amber, agate and chevron beads from Africa.

Ms Debayo developed Beaded Links for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the exhibition is presented by the Australian Association for the Promotion of International Arts and Culture.

Beaded Links is on show in the National Museum of Australia's First Australians Focus Gallery from 10 August 2006 to 4 February 2007. Entry is free.

For images, interviews or more information please contact Leanda Kitchen on
02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au