In a letter to fellow painter Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton described his experience at the summer painting camp he had set up on the outskirts of Melbourne in the late 1880s:
‘I sit here in the upper circle surrounded by copper and gold, and smile with joy under my fly net as all the light, glory and quivering brightness passes slowly and freely before my eyes.’
This exhibition celebrates the passion many artists share for the Australian landscape and the special quality of light which they strive to capture. A Quivering Brightness presents landscapes and views from the Benalla Art Gallery Collection dating from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, and includes works by many of Australia’s most highly regarded artists.
Image: Penleigh Boyd, Portsea, oil on board, 1921. Gift of E.E. Ledger 1975.
Saturday 20 May, 10-4pm (1 hr lunch): Landscape painting class with artist Julie Guppy
Born on the Street presents the work of two giants of the Australian street art community, Rone and Adnate.
Adnate shares his passion for indigenous cultures by painting large-scale, realistic portraits in the streets. From a graffiti background, he has gained world-wide recognition and captivated viewers with his monumental street art portraits.
Rone has gone from spearheading Melbourne’s fledgling street art movement in the early 2000s as a member of the Everfresh crew, to being a celebrated fixture on the international street art scene. As a street artist he is best known for his haunting, stylised images of women’s faces.
Born on the Street celebrates the passion of two of Australia’s foremost street art collectors, Sandra Powell and Andrew King, and their dedication and support for artists whose work is often thought of as temporary and transgressive.
Part of the 2017 Benalla Wall to Wall Festival, 6 - 9 April.
Saturday 8 April, 4pm: Artists RONE and Adnate in conversation with street art collectors Sandra Powell and Andrew King.
Sunday 9 April, 11am: Exhibition tour with street art collectors Sandra Powell and Andrew King
Born 100 years ago on April 22, 1917, Sidney Nolan was to become one of Australia’s most celebrated painters. He is best known for his painting series inspired by Australian landscapes, legends and history and featuring figures such as the Kelly Gang, shipwreck victim Eliza Fraser, and the explorers Burke and Wills.
This exhibition celebrates Nolan’s diverse career and includes paintings, rarely seen photographs, screenprints and the much loved Glenrowan tapestry, all from the Benalla Art Gallery Collection.
Nolan’s 1949 Central Australia series of photographs ‘provide a window into the life of outback Australia during the postwar era. More than this, they are the product of an artistic eye, revealing much about Nolan’s working process and highlighting the significant role that photography played in relation to his art.’
Saturday 22 April, 2-4pm: Sidney Nolan’s 100th Birthday Celebration
Brett Whiteley: West of the Divide presents works spanning four decades of the artist’s career. Artworks in the exhibition have been selected by Wendy Whiteley and the Brett Whiteley Studio with a curatorial focus on the enduring connection Whiteley had with the region west of the Great Dividing Range.
Whiteley spent his formative years in Sydney and as a boarder at The Scots School, Bathurst. His artistic talent was noticed and nurtured by his teachers and he would spend weekends drawing, immersed in the countryside and the distinct seasons.
Whiteley returned to the central west of NSW years later after travelling extensively in Europe, America and Asia, and continued to draw inspiration from the region for the remainder of his life. He frequently travelled to Marulan, Lucknow, Oberon, Carcoar and Bathurst sketching and painting intimate landscapes.
Whiteley found sanctuary and peace visiting the countryside; his senses heightened by the willow and poplar trees, meandering rivers, rocks and unique birds, all of which held special significance for him since childhood. These experiences would be constant subjects in later iconic works such as The lyrebird, 1972 – 1973, Marulan bird with rocks, circa 1980, Summer by the River of Plums, 1985 – 86 and Autumn (near Bathurst) – Japanese Autumn, 1987-88.
The exhibition features drawings, paintings and sculptures from the Brett Whiteley Studio and the Art Gallery of New South Wales collections.
Image: Brett Whiteley, Marulan bird with rocks, circa 1980, oil, gouache, collage, rocks on plywood, 153 x 88.6 x 9 cm. Brett Whiteley Studio. Photo: AGNSW © Wendy Whiteley
Kate Jenvey is an internationally renown artist who creates highly detailed images of wild animals and birds. From the artist’s early childhood in East Africa, nature has been a source of wonder and excitement leading to a great respect for the natural world.
Kate’s use of coloured and graphite pencils precisely capture the detail, nuances and intricate structures in a manner that honours nature’s beauty.
The power, dynamic beauty and drama of the wild are all ingredients that Kate explores through her art, providing herself and her audiences with deep enjoyment.
Image: Kate Jenvey, Rosy Cheeks, 2016
Adelaide-based artist Michelle Nikou draws on surrealism in a reflective and productive way to transform mundane domestic objects and materials into sculptures of humour and marvel. In this exhibition of new and recent work she utilises surrealist strategies such as chance, psychological metaphor, deadpan wit and juxtaposition, and inventively mingles high and low art sources and cultural references. Her work intentionally blurs and extends the boundaries between fine art and craft and often invests unremarkable or overlooked facets of daily existence with new and unexpected significance.
Nikou’s practice is also characterised by a deep engagement with language and she forges connections between art and literature that invoke suburban life, family interactions and food. Seemingly disparate concepts and materials are regularly combined to produce unsettling and sometimes absurd effects, such as the fried eggs made in bronze that lend the exhibition its title, the flattened egg forms suggesting the vowels of the alphabet.
As a result of imaginative exploration Nikou has evolved a distinctive visual vocabulary and sophisticated practice with a strong conceptual basis in its play of poetics, aesthetics and forms.
A NETS Victoria Touring Exhibition
Image: Michelle Nikou, Sylvia’s Jumper, 2013-16
Courtesy of the artist and Darren knight Gallery, Sydney
The Salon presents an intimate experience of the Benalla Art Gallery collection. A wonderful array of works from the Collection including paintings, decorative arts and furniture are displayed in a 19th century salon style.
Image: Arthur Streeton (1867 – 1943)
Impression for Golden Summer, 1888-89
oil on canvas on board
Ledger Gift, 1980
Shape Shifters celebrates the development of abstraction within Australia from the early 20th century to the present. Drawn from the Benalla Art Gallery Collection, the exhibition presents paintings, prints and sculptures by some of Australia’s most highly regarded artists including Rosalie Gascoigne, Clement Meadmore, Howard Arkley and Juan Davila.
Shape Shifters traces the influences of international movements of impressionism, cubism and surrealism on early Australian modernism, the rise of abstract expressionism during the mid 20th century and the emergence of bold contemporary Indigenous painting from the 1980s on.
Image: Clement Meadmore, Delaunay’s Dilemma, 1992. © Meadmore Sculptures, LLC/VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy, 2016.
Benalla Art Gallery is excited to present the tantalising sculptures of Vittoria di Stefano as the inspiration for Dream Machine, an evolving art project co-created with Gallery visitors.
Vittoria’s sculptures are machines for exploring desire as a perpetual and often futile force. Tactile, absurd and sensitive, her small constructions of wax, magnets, rubber, soap, ball bearings and other humble materials re-imagine conventional notions of the machine as a means of production.
As part of this exhibition visitors can create their own sculptural objects in response to the transformational alchemy of Vittoria’s desire machines. These will be displayed in the gallery as part of the exhibition.
Image: Vittoria Di Stefano, Tentative Touch 2016
Australian exotica showcases photographic work that engages with the theme of the exotic antipodes.
Ever since the fifteenth century, when European cartographers began including the contour of Terra Australis Incognita (‘the unknown land of the south’) in their speculative maps of the globe, the continent of Australia has been thought of as an exotic place. For many of the artists in this exhibition, this European vision is something that needs to be subverted and critiqued. For others, the idea of living in an eccentric environment, with surreal undertows, continues to inform a distinctively Australian sense of place.
Artists include: Brook Andrew Michael Cook, Destiny Deacon, Peter Dombrovskis, Marian Drew, Leah King-Smith, Joseph McGlennon, Tracey Moffatt, Darren Siwes, Robyn Stacey and Christian Bumbarra Thompson.
Australian Exotica is a touring exhibition organised by the MGA.
Image: Peter Dombrovskis, Lake Oberon, Western Arthur Range, south-west Tasmania 1988.
Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection courtesy of the estate of Peter Dombrovskis.