Real people, historical figures, imagined dialogues …

The Museum of Brisbane has partnered with Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) to create a series of Impossible Conversations, connecting contemporary Australians living in Brisbane with celebrated figures from Italian history.

In the series, Old Boy and Brisbane artist Sam Cranstoun (2004) examines cultural identity across centuries and continents in a stunning new watercolour series. Inspired by Vanity Fair’s satirical 1930s series ‘Impossible Interviews’, nine Brisbane residents shared with Sam the conversations they would like to have with their chosen figure from Italian history. He has then interpreted these conversations through a series of watercolour paintings. Since the historical figures are unable to take part in the conversations, Sam’s paintings hover in the space between question and answer. He offers glimpses of the conversations through imagery and text, inviting us to weave our own narratives.

As a multi-disciplinary artist, Sam experiments with incomplete, unusual and ambiguous ways of viewing and participating in history. His work regularly focuses on historical figures and events as a way of exploring how history is shaped, how it functions and how we as spectators rely on different visual systems as a way of understanding the past.

Be sure to get along to the Museum of Brisbane before Sunday 31 March to see Sam’s Impossible Conversations. You can read the full conversations in the QPAC tunnel at the Cultural Precinct.