‘(Re)Borrowing Arrows with Thatched Boats’ centres around the Chinese idiom or chengyu “草船借箭”. This chengyu was coined from a military strategy developed by Zhuge Liang during the Three Kingdoms Period in China. The strategy involved using decoy boats filled with straw to trick the enemy into wasting their arrows, which were later retrieved and used to launch a successful attack.

Chengyu are idiomatic expressions in the Chinese language that encapsulate cultural, historical, and philosophical concepts in a concise and memorable way. They have been used in literature, poetry, and everyday conversation for centuries. However, despite the presence of Chinese Diaspora in Western Australia, this aspect of Chinese culture is not visible to the broader public.

Patricia Amorim, Shanti Gelmi, Desmond Mah, Deborah Worthy-Collins and Tami Xiang will use 草船借箭 as a catalyst to navigate their worlds, and process their personal histories, experiences and memories. These Boorloo-based artists will produce their body of works collectively as a poetic metaphor.

Official Opening Event

  • Friday, 9 June at 6pm – all welcome
  • Moores Building Contemporary Art Space
  • Opening remarks by Hon Stephen Pratt MLC – South Metropolitan Region

Artist talk and performance

  • by Tami Xiang Sat 17 June 2pm

Exhibition floor tour

  • Wed 14 June 1.30pm
  • Wed 21 June 1.30pm (Chinese language)
  • Led by artist Deborah Worthy-Collins from the perspective of living with a disability and how chengyu is used in this context.


Desmond Mah (curator), Patricia Amorim, Shanti Gelmi, Deborah Worthy-Collins and Tami Xiang.