We look forward to the anniversary celebrations.
This week we had a poorly attended meeting but it coincided with the Gallery starting to hang the anniversary exhibition. Consequently, we had little to look at except for a video installation relating go East Berlin. Bryony explained her plans for the upcoming anniversary and advised us that the Nolan Tapestry will be rehung. She also showed us some Nolan prints that will be on show.
We look forward to the anniversary celebrations.
Members were excited to meet the curator of the Benalla Gallery’s new exhibition “Looking but not Seeing”. Kiron Robinson is an art lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts who specialises in the art of photography.
He has selected twelve contemporary Australian photographers whose work illustrates the new directions in photography. Selfies, the internet and photographic software has revolutionised the way massive numbers of photographs are produced by all of us on our smart phones and uploaded to Facebook, Snapchat etc. Kiron emphasised that we can never see all that is being produced so why are we uploading our photos and who are they for?
Kiron argues that we are producing these images for ourselves rather than for others: the act of making photographs is the real point of our images – creating the world not reflecting it.
Despite this, the twelve photographers he has selected share their images with us in this exhibition. They electronically print, scan, rephotograph, distort and manipulate their images using all the technology made available by programs like PhotoShop, ON1, Corel Paintshop Pro., Cyberlink Photodirector etc. These are photos like you have never seen before – they represent the individual ways the artists have seen and constructed their images.
If you have ever taken a selfie, uploaded your holiday snaps to Facebook or wondered what on earth you are going to do with all these images sitting on your computer – then come along to the Benalla Gallery and see some of the new possibilities of image making.
The group are to meet on Monday 8th October at 10am when Bryony will speak about the 50th Anniversary Exhibition - all works on display from the Gallery’s permanent collection, with a focus on those that were first acquired.
Photographs: Margaret Walshe
Would Art Appreciation group members please note the following change of plan and mark in diaries! Neville.
I just wanted to write and follow up on the change of date for October's U3A Art Appreciation.
The group are to meet on Monday 8th October at 10am and Bryony will speak about the 50th Anniversary Exhibition - all works on display from our permanent collection. A focus on those that were first acquired.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Shanley Cleeland – Education and Public Programs Curator
Benalla Art Gallery
This morning we were fortunate to have Shanley explain to us the delights of the
See HER Land' exhibit.
This is an exhibition of recreations of Indigenous artefacts lovingly produced by Indigenous women artists. The object of their intentions was to recreate the spirit of the art and craft of their forebears and not all objects are exact reproductions. The artists have researched original sources and have studied both drawings and descriptions of aboriginal artefacts and have brought these objects back to life. Both Art and Craft have been used in the manufacture of these exhibits.
We thank Shanley for her generosity and her expertise.
At our July session at the Benalla Gallery, Bryony informed us about a special exhibition of paintings currently on show at the Gallery by the current Archibald Prize Winner Yvette Coppersmith.
These paintings - all portraits of female relatives of the painter - were painted after the death of a relative and were meant to mitigate against the feelings of loss experienced by the artist.
They are all of a high standard and indeed do give the feeling of paintings that could give solace to the viewer once we learn the true story.
Photographs: Margaret Walshe
This month Peter Warples-Crowe and Megan Evans discussed their current exhibition ‘Settlers and Savages’ with our art group.
Peter, an Aboriginal man from near Tumbarumba NSW, uses his art to explore the misconception of Aboriginals as ‘savages’. His series of mission blankets with copies of nineteenth century etchings starkly confronted this idea. The large study of ‘Progress’ showing an Aboriginal man being crushed in a mining whim, asks the question: Was the finding of gold in Ballarat progress for Aboriginal people? Likewise the video of Megan and him on the high plains, masked and wearing a possum skin cloak as they acted out their roles of settler and Aboriginal, with Megan obliterating the art works that Peter had drawn on the rock faces. Within these serious charges, Peter confronts the events with a certain wry humour and irony as he seeks to explore what these deprivations mean to contemporary Aborigines.
Megan, a descendant of squatters in the same area, uses her textile skills to embellish pieces of colonial furniture with beaded scenes including portraits of her grandparents and herself. Using red beads, Megan mutilates the furniture with slashes suggesting the blood spilt in these frontier confrontations. Chairs with carving forks stuck in them, a settee with rifles for legs and a chandelier dripping with red strands of beads cascading from it, further define this idea. Her excellent beaded work on these pieces gives an unsettling contrast of both beauty and horror.
Both artists wanted to debunk the idea of the ‘golden light of colonisation’ that has pushed Aboriginal history aside to acknowledge the tragedies of settlement. Both artists believe that if both cultures face these facts and listen to these forgotten stories there will be a better chance of settlers and Aborigines moving forward in shared understanding.
Our group was quite excited to find ourselves in the Claridge Studio for this month’s art appreciation session. Gallery Director Bryony Nainby had arranged for Dr Julie Gough, an artist, writer and curator to come to Benalla to talk about her own art practice as a Tasmanian Aborigine.
In this session Julie showed many of her photographs that explore amongst other things the notion of ‘Absence’ in the Tasmanian landscape. Where are the missing people that inhabited the island prior to settlement by Europeans? Julie found traces of them in the evocative nineteenth century placenames that hint at their presence: Black Charlie’s Creek, Blackboy, Blackman’s Bay, Jacky’s Marsh etc. Her photos show fingerboards with the placenames but as well the empty landscape behind denuded of native vegetation. The absence of people, of native scrub and native animals point to the obliteration of their culture. And yet within Tasmanian society many Aboriginal people live and practice their culture.
As well Julie noted the number of Aboriginal words appropriated as placenames: Karoola, Catagunya, Bungana and Camena to name a few. Many of these were imposed on the landscape in the twentieth century with little regard for their language, origins and meaning.
You may recall Julie’s photos in the Gallery several months ago, photos of BBQ shelters in picnic spots that have former Aboriginal cultural associations. Her lecture and photo-show also greatly enhanced our understanding of the current exhibition ‘Settlers and Savages’ which uses everyday nineteenth century furniture and objects, embellished with gashes and accretions of red beads, symbolising the blood spilt during the clashes between Aborigines and settlers.
These two events led to many thoughtful comments and further understanding of the culture and experiences of the First Australians.
An enthusiastic and nostalgic group visited the Milkbar exhibition at the Benalla Gallery. With Director Bryony Nainby behind the counter we enjoyed some old-fashioned lollies and marvelled at the monumental task of the artist in creating hand painted representations of his favourite products at the local milkbar of his teenage years in Melbourne.
But milkbars are still alive and well in Benalla and other regional towns and some interesting exchanges occurred when we tried to identify not only our present milkbars but also those from the past that have closed down. Being able to walk inside the milkbar and remember products and magazines that have disappeared brought back many memories, especially the telecom public phone booth that always seemed to be nearby.
The popular children’s activity saw a wall of coloured products that stencilled papers enabled them to produce. Altogether a fun installation for both adults and children and one that attracted up to 800 visitors on one day during the school holidays.
A short video featuring Callum Preston describing this work...
This month our group was surprised with a rare treat and we thank Bryony for her continued support.
Bryony began by explaining the concept underpinning the Gallery’s Collection Lab, then gave us details of the paintings currently on display. These paintings can be declared historic and refer to the colonial period from both settler and indigenous perspectives. The Collection Lab will be a more or less permanent exhibition and will be part of the gallery’s recording and exhibiting of paintings normally kept in storage.
Bryony then brought out a storage box and showed us its contents. There are several such storage boxes in the gallery’s collection, each containing paintings removed from their frames for more secure storage. The storage box selected by Bryony contained a series of watercolours and we were able to experience and share increasing enjoyment and surprise as each painting was uncovered. Included was an unusual Heyson landscape believed not to have been shown in public previously. Several other unknown watercolours followed. Each painting offered some interest and our group clearly enjoyed viewing them and listening to Bryony’s explanations as to their importance.
Art Appreciation that was to be held on Easter Monday has been rescheduled to 9th April, when Bryony will speak about the Milk Bar Exhibition currently on at the Benalla Art Gallery.
A full house arrived at the Simpson Gallery to hear artist, Ray Hearn, talk about his exhibition “True Ned” a mixed media display of paintings, wall sculptures and ceramics. Ray spoke about the background to his exploration of the Kelly legend.
Facts, myths, memories and visual interpretations by Sydney Nolan have all informed his views of Kelly. In effect a huge tangled web of all these influences has caused Ray and a new generation of post-Nolan artists to reinterpret the complexity of our responses to Kelly.
Nolan, who created the most iconic image of Kelly – the black slitted mask – has been appropriated by Ray and reworked in new images of Kelly with peripheral events that may be either fact or myth. Ray originally trained as a ceramic artist and his painted and glazed pottery covered with Kelly images is particularly fine and worth a close inspection.
People interested in the Kelly legend attended the opening of this exhibition at the Gallery on 25 February at 3 – 5pm. John McQuilton, one of the most respected historians of the Kelly legend spoke at the opening and answered Kelly questions. His book, The Kelly Outbreak 1878 – 1880: The Geographical Dimension of Social Banditry, 1987 is well known amongst Kelly enthusiasts. Earlier in the afternoon McQuilton gave a talk about the early colonial works in the collection – a noteworthy event.
We have been able to see at the gallery this year, a balance of the older examples of Australian art from the 1880s when Australian Expressionism began to develop, and the new as it has evolved through the artists of the mid and later 20th century. Members have felt that the lectures from the gallery staff have enhanced their understanding of the exhibitions, particularly of those exhibitions featuring new media, new artists and new trends in contemporary art.
Art has always been controversial by trying to break new grounds to express its purposes. Each new generation of art students and practitioners create their own ways of expressing their visual ideas. It’s important for us, as viewers, to engage with these new visions and give the younger generation of artists space to exhibit and put forward their ideas.
Currently the Benalla Gallery has three excellent exhibitions from Australian master printmakers, all represented in major galleries in Australia and overseas. These exhibitions are a must for everyone interested in contemporary printmaking and for those curious to see what it is like. Rona Green’s cartoon type images of anthropomorphic animals are both amusing and disturbing in the Bennett Gallery. In the Simpson Gallery Jazmina Cininas’ large etchings exploring the history of European werewolves bring to mind Grimm’s Fairy Tales of dark forests and deadly deeds.
Our December lecture by Meredith Paez took us round the large group of paintings and prints entitled “The Botany of Desire”. Here the gallery uses both historical botanical paintings on canvas and china from the Ledger collection and contrasts these with a diverse group of contemporary prints and photos. These are generally large works which involve the printmaker using a number of printing techniques to produce the final master print. Etching, lino cutting, C-Class prints, photography and painted embellishment are all part of contemporary printmaking. This exhibition is a fine display of many of these techniques, including one moving kaleidoscopic image of silkworms on leaves! The new acquisition of thirty panels of fanciful animals and plants, from which the exhibition gets its name, is a wonderful example of master printmaker, Milan Milojevic, creating both a vision of beauty as well as a tour de force of skills.
Thanks to Bryony Nainby and her staff for a wonderful year of exhibitions.
This session was designed and hosted by co-convenor Neville Gibb to explore a question he often asks ‘Where is the Art?’ Benalla Art Gallery staff responded to Neville’s request for works by two well-known Australian painters to be exhibited before our group, setting the scene for a talk about two greats of Australian Art Neville describes as ‘both arguably geniuses’, Albert Namatjira and Hans Heysen.
Neville began the session with a thoughtfully prepared response to the paintings. His premise was that we can tell where the art is when we look at both men's work. “Both were able to produce works that are close to perfection in their capturing the spirit of the land. Not an easy thing to do”. Neville contended that there would not be an Australian anywhere in the world who would not feel identification with the work of both men. Namatjira and Heysen were contemporaries and it is not known if they ever met but it is known that Heysen admired Namatjira's work. Namatjira came to painting in his 30s. Heysen was recognised from a young age as someone within immense talent. Both had good and bad times. Namatjira suffered mightily the slings and arrows of being an Aborigine and Heysen had to lay low during WW1. Namatjira's intention was to record the land - painting came into it but getting the essence of the land into a painting was his intention. It is an easy argument to make that this was Heyson's intention also. Neville considers both men to have produced work of great worth and feels proud that we have examples of their work in the Gallery. As he sees them standing head and shoulders above most other Australian Artists, Neville hopes we see more of their work on display.
Neville then invited local painter Mervyn Beamish to give his opinion. Merv made several comments where he clearly differed from Neville. Merv said that in his view, art is determined to be art by the beholder, not by someone telling them it is art, because it hangs on a gallery wall or because someone is willing to pay a large amount of money for it. ‘Your two year old grandchild's sketch stuck on the refrigerator door triggers an emotion; a memory, that, to you, is a work of art. A crack in the footpath can be a wonderful work of art and be quite fascinating because it stimulates senses, emotions even a memory.’…’If the item stimulates you senses; disgust and fascination ... the colours, the pattern, the situation, the swirl, there is something about it that takes you beyond the moment’. Merv was able to explain where he felt the strength of both painters lay and made several valuable explanations, warming to his task as the morning went on. Merv's work is on display at NEA.
Neville and Merv’s follow up discussion, together with contributions from the floor by Val Dunin; Carol Perry; visitors Reuben and Hazel Frankland; Bev Lee and others concluded an absorbing and lively session.
Bryony Nainby, gallery director, discussed this exhibition of large photo panels, videos, prints and paintings that comprises the fascinating and challenging Colonial Afterlife exhibition.
These works are by young indigenous artists from countries that experienced European colonisation. Now 200 years on these young people explore the challenges they face living in two cultures. In many ways the dominant colonising culture obscured and suppressed indigenous culture making it difficult for both groups to relate to each other in equal ways. Massacres, economic exploitation, loss of land and violence of all sorts continued to separate indigenous and colonising cultures.
Young urban indigenous artists from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South America are exploring these dark histories and the continuing existing tensions to challenge society’s stereotypes of indigenous people and present their own interpretation of the colonial experience.
You need to spend some time looking carefully at these pieces, puzzling out their meanings and allowing yourself to see the world from a different point of view. This will be time well spent and will take you a long way beyond dot paintings and anthropological objects.
Fiona Foley’s large scale posed photos are immediately striking and Julie Gough’s BBQ area photos in former ceremonial sites in Tasmania are worth thinking about. Spend a few minutes watching the videos or admire Maree Clarke’s ceremonial necklace. There are many others to enjoy too.
On Monday 4th of September the U3A Art Appreciation group was treated to a talk given by Arlene Textaqueen about her paintings that are on display in the Bennett Gallery. Arlene primarily works on paper with felt-tip marker pens commonly referred to as textas in Australia.
In this exhibition of works completed over some 15 years most of the subjects are nudes, although this is not immediately obvious. Some of Arlene's works have a cartoonish look to them. Some are of recent political figures and events. Some have very intricate backgrounds. Some refer to current political trends. There is one killer picture in the form of an Australian Newspaper front page in which Arlene sums up her philosophy and, it can be argued, sums up the intention of all her paintings in this exhibition. It is worth noting what Arlene says in this painting because it does have profound meaning and makes the viewer consider his or her own actions.
During the course of her talk Arlene admitted to being a shy person even though her work does not indicate this. The subjects of her paintings appear to be extroverts and each work has an optimistic outgoing feel to it. Some are confronting, but this is deliberate.
There are also some nude self-portraits set in the Australian landscape on display.
All in all this was a very interesting talk and we thank Bryony for bringing it to us.
The next Art Appreciation Group will be Monday 2nd October, 10am - "Colonial Afterlives" Speaker: Bryony Nainby Colonial Afterlives considers a range of contemporary responses to British colonisation from indigenous and diasporic artists living in Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Britain and Canada. It incorporates a diversity of views ranging from melancholic eulogies to passionate and sometimes scathing commentaries on the complex legacies of British occupation.
Monday 6th November, 10am - "Two works by Heysen & Namatjira - Where is the Art?” Speaker Neville Gibb and artist (to be confirmed)
This month Art Appreciation group members were treated to a behind the scenes inspection of Benalla Art Gallery’s storage space by the Director, Bryony Nainby. Bryony began by giving us a short history of the Gallery, explaining that financial restraints when the Gallery was built meant that limited storage space was included within the building. She then gave us a detailed explanation of the Gallery’s policy of collecting art and of the various ways in which the Gallery comes to be in possession of so many valuable works of Art.
Lack of space has meant the Gallery has had to make do when storing art works, of which there are approximately 4000 pieces. Some paintings are stored in specially made metal racks. Some works are stored on moveable wooden racks which are moved around within the storage area as required.
Other more important works are stored in conventional ways on storage racks that need a good deal of strength to pull out to extract paintings stored. Bryony explained that plans are in place for the rollers on these racks to be greased, a major task as all the art works on them will need to be removed then replaced.
Bryony gave us an insight into the problems of keeping all art works in good condition and the group listened with rapt attention. This visit to the storage area behind the scenes was a treat that other visitors to the Gallery do not see.
Later on Bryony brought us up to date with the plans for the expansion of the building. There are plans in place for a further two large galleries and several other storage and educational facilities and it is hoped that the finance required can be raised in the near future. When completed the expanded Gallery will be continuing proof of how Benalla competes well above its weight when it comes to Art.
Just a quick note from Neville to let you know that after the session at the Gallery, which this month involves 'going behind the scenes' at the Gallery, the cafe catchup will be at Rustik cafe as the Gallery cafe will be unavailable. If you see this note, could you please let friends who also attend Art Appreciation know of this change.
A cold rainy day saw us gathered at the Gallery to hear Bryony discuss the photographic exhibition: The Body’s Terrain. The exhibition enabled us to explore the many and varied ways the human form can be depicted. Female photographers were represented by a number of enigmatic studies reinterpreting women as a contemporary Eve or insignificant figures of men and women bathing at the base of a waterfall (Janina Green).
Julie Rapp’s comic study of herself with a horse’s tail challenged the idea that women always need to be beautiful.
Tim Silver’s four panels of an increasingly crumbling prone sculpture of himself spoke movingly of the body’s inevitable decay through time.
We spent some time viewing Bill Hanson’s photo Cupid and Psyche, a dark reinterpretation of a c19th French painting. Two young lovers engrossed in each other’s arms, surrounded by old car bodies and shadowy figures in the dark. Not everyone’s cup of tea...but quite a few felt it showed young love in a striking but beautiful way.
The three studies of the body as landscape (David Moore) melded the concept of low hills with the sinuous curves of the female form. Like other photos in this exhibition these s tudies showed only parts of the human form, departing radically from the formal depictions of nude figures painted as full-frontal figures.
Altogether a satisfying morning’s viewing with members participating in lively discussions.
Catherine Bennetts-Cash provided members with some intriguing information about 'Patterns of Connection', indigenous art from the Benalla Gallery collection, celebrating the 1967 Citizenship Referendum, NAIDOC week and the Uluru Declaration. Most of the work on display was produced in the 1990s and consists of photographs or mixed media with photographic elements. This provides viewers with a different perspective about Aboriginal art practitioners than the usual exhibitions of dot paintings and makes many tough and sober comments on the effects of colonisation.
'Sexy and Dangerous' shows Brook Andrew’s appropriation of an early 1900s photo of a young Aboriginal chief from North Queensland. This ambiguous image printed on perspex challenges stereo types by playing with the concept of male beauty bisected by gross white slashes perhaps representing colonial oppression. By contrast Leah King-Smith creates large multi-layered images of nineteenth century mission Aborigines returned to their bushland settings in a mysterious and unsettling ghostly landscape. These two key works are amply supported by the strong photos of Fiona Foley traditionally dressed, mirroring historic portraits of Aboriginal women, thus merging their condition in the past and present.
In contrast Destiny Deacon in “Peach Blossoms Revenge” provides a satirical swipe in a mixed media montage of modern Aboriginal and Anglo culture morphing into lurid commercial theatre. Look out also for the almost hidden photo image of a settler ploughing a field in Gordon Bennett’s work which is embedded in the larger traditional painting of Aboriginal land with “sit down” space around a waterhole ringed by border of skulls, suggesting the colonial killing of traditional owners in order to appropriate their land.
These photographic works are anchored by two large traditional paintings whose meanings are clear to the initiated members of the artists’ Northern Territory clans.
June's session at the Benalla Art Gallery marked the handing over of the convenors' role from Carole and Godfrey Marple to Meg Dillon and Neville Gibb from Semester II. Thank you so much Carole and Godfrey, for convening the group so thoughtfully and successfully for a number of years. It will be good to see you returning as members of the group. Thanks also to Meg and Neville, for agreeing to share the role from Semester II.
Quite a few members of the U3A Art Appreciation Group attended the lecture given by Damien Smith, former archivist of the Sidney Nolan Trust U.K., to celebrate the 100th birthday of Sidney Nolan. Surprisingly this is the only exhibition in Australia this year to celebrate this occasion despite several important exhibitions being organised in the U.K.
The Benalla Art Gallery’s significant collection of Nolan’s work is on display in the Simpson Gallery until 21st May and is well worth a visit. The much loved tapestry of the Glenrowan siege, now restored, is on view. As well, eight of the iconic Kelly-series screen prints tell the story of the Kelly saga.
Two groups of rare photos taken by Nolan between 1949 and 1952 depict the drought in the Queensland outback. They give the viewers insights into where he found some of the well known images in his landscapes of the red and barren interior of Australia. The mummified images of horses and cattle are particularly arresting. The Brisbane courier Mail didn’t print any of these photos despite commissioning some of them, as they were deemed too confronting for their readers.
Smith also commented on the painting “Horse rolling on the beach” (1945). It appears Nolan caught a glimpse of a horse rolling in the sand on St Kilda beach when he was travelling past by tram. Nolan’s almost photographic visual memory stored this quirky image and used it later for this painting.
My favourites are the two small studies done in fabric ink and wax crayon that reference Greek Myths entitled “Prometheus” (1968) and “Woman and Bird” (1958).
Nolan was a prolific painter, photographer and voracious reader and collector all his life, interested particularly in myths and poetry. His wide reading seemed to stimulate his vision and form the basis of some of his works.
Postscript: Meg’s report also relates to the May session of Art Appreciation, where the exhibition covered was the Sydney Nolan: 100 Year Celebration
Sidney Nolan's Glenrowan tapestry, Benalla Art Gallery Collection.
(Image Source: Benalla Art Gallery Sidney Nolan: 100 year birthday celebration
promotion, Benalla Art Gallery Website)
In April the U3A group was entertained by an instructive talk by Ivan Durrant concentrating on his friend Brett Whiteley, but also including references to other acquaintances of his in the art world. Ivan, who has had a long career in art, is well respected and well known by many other artists.
It was immensely enjoyable to listen to someone who is familiar with well known figures who could relate stories about them. Whiteley was a gregarious friendly person who Ivan knew quite well. Ivan made reference to many of Brett's works and explained their context in the art world. He was quite generous in his praise of Whiteley and congratulated the Gallery on the current exhibition.
The basic point of Ivan's talk was that artists have many different drives and these need to be put into context. Nervous energy is very important and may manifest itself in surprising ways. It is important that we understand and tolerate things that artists may indulge in - drugs - sex - rock and roll - etc - because sometimes artists need to follow all their instincts in order to produce good art. Sometimes artists live off their nervous energy when producing art. Artists start off being teenagers and it is important that they keep the edgy feeling they had as teenagers - in essence stay teenagers for all their lives. Artists have to explore all creative urges because no one knows in advance where it will lead them. Feelings are important and artists just have to follow their feelings.
Sometimes, however, in following their feelings, creativity can lead some artists into bizarre circumstances. Ivan was able to provide us with entertaining gossip concerning many people in the art world and to give us details of the interesting private lives of artists he had known.
We hope Ivan can come back again for further lectures.
The Art Group was fortunate to attend a talk given in person by Kate Jenvey who has an exhibition 'Drawn to the Wild' in the Simpson Gallery. Kate’s drawings in Graphite and Coloured Pencils are of an exceptionally high quality and a must see. The work is of such quality one wonders if computer graphics might have been involved. Detailed to an exceptional point, painstakingly correct they are of such quality you could call them transformational. But they also have a spiritual aspect to them. We are not just viewing the reproductions of photographs. Art is involved here. Her drawings take the viewer on a journey into the Animals’ stories where we feel attuned to their essence. She brings the viewer to the point where we understand we are all creatures in this world together and we need to treat our brother animals as we would treat ourselves. Kate obviously loves animals and we are fortunate that she can use her great skills to bring the animal’s plight to our attention.
Bravo Kate. We salute you.
In the Bennett Gallery there is an exhibition that raises the question: What is Art and how do we recognize it? No doubt some of the exhibits are artistic but how much Art is contained therein is the question. This is not a problem isolated to this exhibition. What is considered Art meanders sometimes off on its own journey and this is one example? This is a conundrum for all art galleries. Do we accept that art is moving in this direction and show it as art? Or do we keep showing old work that has been accepted as art? And not show anything new. Unfortunately it takes time before time sorts out what is art and what isn’t.
In the Ledger Gallery we are fortunate to have the Brett Whitely exhibition curated by Wendy Whitely. It is fair to say that these are not Brett’s best pictures and some of them show evidence of the colours fading. But this is a small criticism. The exhibition is a coup for the Gallery. Whitely was greatly talented and all his art is accessible and pleasing to the eye. He was able produce his own style and to also incorporate many influences into his art. He did capture the mood and atmosphere of his time. He produced paintings that were meant to be appreciated by others. Whitely had the ability to be one of Australia’s great artists and it is unfortunate his life was cut short before he could produce his best work. This exhibition however does give an indication of his great tale. It is worth spending some time in the Gallery contemplating and reflecting on Whiteley’s Art.
All Art Appreciation members were pleased to be back with gatherings at the Benalla Art Gallery on the first Monday of the month. This time Katherine took us through the exhibition in the Bennett gallery of works by Michelle Nikou. Katherine explained that Michelle took everyday items in a home and treated them in a way that challenged us to think about these items in another way. An example of this treatment was potatoes dipped in lead and then placed on skewers in a glass case - amazing. Then we had neon lights letters stating there was No Vacancy. Not everyone was as enthusiastic as Katherine about this exhibition, but I am sure everyone will love our next showing of wonderful drawings of animals in the wild by Kate Jenvey.
Remember the date - the first Monday of the month 6th March at 10:00 am Benalla Art Gallery. Carole
The Benalla Gallery is currently showing an exhibition of photographs from the Monash Gallery in Wheelers Hill. The Monash Gallery specializes in photographs and Benalla Gallery is showing 15 or so until next month.
The photographs exhibited are mostly by Indigenous artists, and are a mixed bunch. Some are striking. Some are filled with crude cliché. The overall theme is Terra Nullius and the European concept of the indigenous position.
Several are simple reproductions of what would have been called biscuit box art produced by colonial photographers. These have been magnified and colourised and transferred to canvas. They pull at the heartstrings and one feels a connection with the original subjects. One cannot help feeling sympathy with the people in the photos.
The U3a Art group was treated to a lecture by Catherine Bennets-Cash where Catherine concentrated on two photo’s – both by indigenous artists – attempting to show the contradictions of the indigenous existence or non connection with the landscape. One photo shows an indigenous youth dressed in Colonial Officers garb carrying an umbrella riding a bicycle out of a surfing seascape. The other photo is also of an aboriginal youth dressed in what appears to be a disheveled bride’s dress walking towards the camera but not looking at it. Both photos are verging on the crude cliché and it is difficult to understand what point each artist is trying to make. Maybe the Artists are simply reminding the viewer that the concept of the indigenous existence is a European construct. Maybe putting indigenous figures into unusual European dress highlights contradictions. Maybe the photos are simply meant to be looked at and wondered about.
Whatever – Catherine was able to speak at length about these two photos and the group listened intently.
We thank Catherine for her lectures during the year.
On Monday the 7th of November the Art Group were treated to a lecture by Catherine Bennetts-Cash on an exhibition of paintings, masks, drawings and photos by a local Artist Jacqui Stockdale.
Jacqui has two large canvasses on display which she uses as a backdrop to her photographs. These canvasses are done in the colonial style - indeed one is a blow up of a colonial age painting of Mount Wellington. Her photographs are recreations of possible situations both past and present - all seem to relate to historic local myths. The Kelly Family and their relatives are both either on display or referred to. Particular reference is made in a general sense to the role of women in these widely held local myths.
The exhibition as a whole is quite thought provoking. Bravo Jacqui.
In the Simpson Gallery there is an exhibition of Pastel works by Jennifer Paul. These are drawings of a high standard and well worth a viewing.
Jennifer will be giving a talk on Saturday 26th November about her work on display and I would recommend attendance.
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