Matthew has co-curated with his colleague Dr Alexandra Green, the British Museum’s Henry Ginsburng Curator for Southeast Asia, an exhibition at the British Museum titled Shadow Puppet Theatre from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand that runs until 29 January 2017. On display are puppets and related artefacts from Java, Bali, Kelantan and Thailand. Most of the Javanese puppets in the exhibition are more than 200 years old, collected by TS Raffles during his time as Lieutenant Governor of Java. It has been exciting to work with this historic collection, with a lot learned about the history of wayang through this. Dr Green’s last exhibit in this space ‘Pilgrims, healers, and wizards: Buddhism and religious practices in Burma and Thailand’ attracted more than 170,000 visitors. So a major event.
Along with the British Museum exhibition, Matthew and Alexandra convened a full-day conference panel at the ASEASUK conference at SOAS on 16-18 September 2016.
Matthew performed a two-hour English-language wayang kulit performance in the Cirebon style, together with gamelan musicians and guest dancer Dr Een Herdiani from ISBI Bandung, along with musician Waryo S and pesinden Titi Sumiati from Cirebon and a number of UK-based gamelan musicians at the British Museum’s BP Lecture Theatre on 4 November 2016. The sold-out performance was covered extensively in Indonesian media, with articles in Tempo, Koran Solo, Obor Rakyat, Antara, Liputan 6, Metro TV and other outlets.
Matthew also delivered a gallery talk about the exhibition on 8 December at the British Museum.
Matthew’s latest book, Inventing the Performing Arts: Modernity and Tradition in Colonial Indonesia (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2016) launched in July 2016 at the X-Drifts Festival in London, in an event sponsored by the newly-founded Centre for Asian Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway. Responses were given by Professor Mark Hobart (SOAS) and Dr Avanthi Meduri (Roehampton University). Matthew is serving as the Centre’s first director. The Centre is sponsoring a raft of other events, including artist residencies, talks and a symposium, for its inaugural year.