Museum of Brisbane

Sam Cranstoun: Impossible Conversations

  • 10 Oct 2018 - 31 Mar 2019
  • Exhibition now closed

In Impossible Conversations, Brisbane artist Sam Cranstoun examines cultural identity across centuries and continents in a stunning new watercolour series

Sam Cranstoun: Impossible Conversations

Inspired by Vanity Fair’s bitingly satirical 1930s series ‘Impossible Interviews’, nine Brisbane residents shared the conversations they would like to have with their chosen figure from Italian history.

Sam has interpreted these conversations through a series of watercolour paintings.

Because 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.

About the artist

Sam Cranstoun

Sam is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice experiments with incomplete, unusual and ambiguous ways of viewing and participating in history. His paintings prompt us to notice how imagery drawn from visual systems such as pop culture, art history and the natural environment inform our sense of the world.

About the project

Real people, historical figures, imagined dialogues …

Museum of Brisbane  partnered with QPAC to create a series of Impossible Conversations, connecting contemporary Australians living in Brisbane with celebrated figures from Italian history.

After a community call-out, nine individuals were selected and over a period of months shared their imagined conversations, their questions and sense of connection and interest with Sam, writer Mary-Rose MacColl  and photographer Jacqueline Bawtree, who then realised these cross-cultural, cross-continental and cross-generational conversations in words and images.

To produce Impossible Conversations, Museum of Brisbane partnered with Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) to celebrate their 2018 QPAC International Series featuring Italy’s iconic Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company. You can read the full conversations in the QPAC tunnel at the Cultural Precinct from November. Find out more about Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company’s season at QPAC.

The participants and their chosen historical figures

Marie Kathleen Fitzgibbon with film and stage actress Giulietta Masina
Sara Capacci with astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei
Liana Cantarutti with adventurer and author Giacomo Casanova
Massimo Ficca with poet Dante Alighieri
Kira Boardman with painter and architect Giorgio Vasari
Dominique Rizzo with Saint Agatha, the saint of Siciliy
Mihai Romanciuc with politician, journalist and activist Marco Pannella
Jacqueline Bawtree with Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi 
Canio Muscillo with his Nonno Michele Romano


All images: Sam Cranstoun Impossible Conversations series 2018, watercolour.  Artwork courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery.