Monday, December 17, 2012

New Acquisition

With the assistance of a grant from The Robert Salzer Foundation, Ararat Regional Art Gallery has acquired a major artwork by Jenny Watson called 'After a fashion, with bag'. Jenny Watson is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists with a 30 year practice that has seen her exhibit annually at prestigious galleries around the world. Jenny is known for her painting and mixed media work on fabric, which often combines text and script. Her diaristic art is sometimes knowingly child-like and expressionistic, and her use of colour and energetic mark-making heightens our empathy with her subjects.

From the early 1980s Jenny began painting on alternative materials such as hessian, velvet, cotton and taffeta. Her use of red velvet in her 1993 Venice Biennale exhibition is a notable example of the importance of fabric to her painting practice. She now mostly uses beautiful and distinctive fabrics - stretched or unstretched - as a support for her painting. However, the character of the fabric is never concealed, but instead contributes to the composition and brings what she calls a 'cultural quotient' to the work.

'After a fashion, with bag' is especially interesting in the way it explores the formal and conceptual significance of the textile support in painting. This makes some interesting connection to other contemporary works in the gallery’s permanent collection. The fabric featured in this artwork was purchased by Jenny on a visit to India in 2008-09. The image and text were painted on the fabric during her stay in India. The text panel reads: ‘I was staying in a big, old fashioned hotel in India. There were birds, like crows, but bluer, and some of them were quite tame. These ones came down to the pool to drink, and paddle, despite people sitting around.’

In August this year Jenny visited Ararat to present a talk about her work. Her visit coincided with the presentation of her suite of eight lithographs in the gallery’s ‘Recent Acquisitions’ exhibition. These prints were a gift of Landsborough sculptor, Kevin Free, who is Jenny’s brother-in-law. Jenny is also connected to Ararat through childhood memories and stories of her mother’s Ararat upbringing.

Jenny Watson’s 'After a fashion, with bag' will be presented for the first time at the gallery from 30 January 2013.

Image details: Jenny Watson, ‘After a fashion, with bag’ (2008-09), acrylic on rabbit skin glue primed cotton and silk pashmina, 82 x 94 cm & 179 x 130 cm, Purchased with the assistance of The Robert Salzer Foundation and annual Ararat Rural City Council allocation, 2012, Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dreamweavers in Ararat

‘Dreamweavers’, a Gippsland Art Gallery and NETS Victoria touring exhibition, is arguably the most theatrical and entrancing exhibition ever to visit Ararat.  ‘Dreamweavers’ is curated by Simon Gregg from the Gippsland Art Gallery - a dynamic curator who has enjoyed considerable success with his recent Nicholas Chevalier and William Delafield Cook exhibitions and his ‘New Romantics’ book which explores the re-emergence of romanticism in contemporary Australian art.

Simon visited Ararat to oversee the installation of his ambitious ‘Dreamweavers’ exhibition, which includes a complex and monumental installation by British artist, Sam Spenser. New media artist Joel Zika (pictured) also visited Ararat to formally open ‘Dreamweavers’ on Saturday 3 November 2012..

Joel is a Hobart-born, Melbourne-based artist who is represented in ‘Dreamweavers’ with four large photographs presented in a light box format.  Joel’s photographs are produced using computer generated imagery (CGI). His images are colourful, yet evoke a haunting air of mystery and foreboding which is further highlighted through the presentation of his images in light boxes. In the exhibition, Joel’s work is described as ‘...garish and highly surreal...combining... the bizarre baroque of Surrealism with a spine-tingling mastery of CGI.’

At the opening, Joel spoke about his work which explores the idea of the abandoned theme park and its representation in popular culture. He also discussed the work of the other artists featured in ‘Dreamweavers’, and reflected on curator Simon Gregg’s vision for the show and his desire to create a journey that challenged audience expectations of the gallery experience.

For more about 'Dreamweavers' see this link to an episode of ABC TV's Art Nation:

'Dreamweavers' is also profiled on the NETS Victoria website:

'Dreamweavers' is at Ararat Regional Art Gallery until 20 January 2013.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Amongst the Trees

It was a privilege to welcome Tim Jones to Ararat Regional Art Gallery on Thursday 20 September 2012 to officially open his exhibition, 'Amongst the Trees' with an artist’s talk. Tim's exhibition features sculptures and exquisite wood engraved prints from the mid 1980s to today, plus two small tapestries on loan from the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

At the exhibition opening Tim spoke to an appreciative audience about his journey as an artist. In attendance were many people who had recently participated in his workshops in Halls Gap, presented through Grampians Brushes.  Tim spoke about his lifelong interest in art which developed as a child growing up in North Wales. As a small boy Tim spent hours with his father, who was a woodwork teacher and restorer of Gypsy caravans, learning about Celtic history and Romany life. His father also introduced him to the art of wood engraving, and he subsequently received a Christmas gift of print making tools, ink and boxwood in which to engrave his imagery.

As a young adult Tim studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Polytechnic, where he further developed his skills as a wood engraver. He had an enduring fascination with Australia, and after completing his tertiary studies in England he arrived in Australia in 1983, enrolling in postgraduate studies at the Victorian College of the Arts. He soon established his reputation as one of the most accomplished printmakers working in Australia.

Aside from trips back to Wales and a stint in New York in the mid 1980s as a studio assistant to renowned English painter, John Walker, Tim has lived in Australia, establishing a home and studio at Hanging Rock in central Victoria in the 1990s. His move to Hanging Rock transformed his practice, and he abandoned urban scenes and cityscapes and rekindled his childhood interest in nature. His personal iconography combines layers of cultural influences and life experiences and his images of trees and forests are alternately Welsh or Australian, and sometimes a combination of both.

Tim Jones is represented in many public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. He is well known for his public art commissions in Western Victoria including ‘Scar Tree’ (2003) in Horsham, and most recently, ‘The Seafarers Tree’ (2012) in Port Fairy. ‘Amongst the Trees’ continues to 28 October 2012.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Golden Years

In 1981 one of Ararat's most important artistic sons, Stan Kelly, began teaching painting at the Ararat Town Hall's Art Craft Workshop. Stan Kelly was a respected artist renowed for his comprehensive study of eucalypts.  Many of the original participants in these weekly classes attended with the aim of learning botanical art from this master of the genre. Stan Kelly died in 1994, but the group continued and is known today as the Stan Kelly Art Group as a tribute to their late teacher.  Today the group has broadened and its members pursue painting and drawing in all mediums to explore a wide range of subject matter.

The Stan Kelly Art Group will exhibit recent work at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery from 5 September to 28 October 2012 to mark the 2012 Golden Gateway Festival (19 to 28 October) and to complement the inaugural Ararat Antiques Fair at the Ararat Town Hall (26 to 28 October).

Art group members have taken on the challenge of making a new painting or drawing in response to the theme, 'Golden Years'.  The theme has been interpreted broadly by members, and resulting works will extend from reflections on Ararat's gold mining and agricultural past through to more poetic explorations of the idea of nostalgia.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jenny Watson Visits Ararat

Jenny Watson, one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, will visit Ararat Regional Art Gallery on Wednesday 12 September 2012 at 7pm to talk about her international career and 30 year-plus arts practice, which includes painting and mixed media on fabric, often incorporating text and script.  Her illustrated talk will provide an insight into her development as an artist and coincides with the gallery’s ‘Recent Acquisitions’ exhibition which includes her suite of eight lithographic prints on show until 22 October 2012.  

Jenny Watson came to prominence as an artist in the late 1970s during a formative period in the rise of Melbourne’s underground creative community.  During this time Jenny’s practice included commissions for post-punk musicians including Boys Next Door and The Go-Betweens.  In the early 1980s Jenny’s art was positioned as part of the ‘return to figuration’ in international contemporary painting known as neo-expressionism.  She exhibited widely and was represented in Paul Taylor’s groundbreaking 1982 exhibition, ‘Popism’, at the National Gallery of Victoria, which signaled a new internationally-focussed critical context for Australian art.  She represented Australia at the 1993 Venice Biennale and her work is represented in all major Australian public and private collections. She continues to regularly exhibit internationally and is represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery (Melbourne), Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery (Sydney), Greenaway Gallery (Adelaide), Transit (Belgium), Annina Nosei Gallery (New York) and Gimpel Fils (London).   She will present her first one person show in Tokyo in October 2012 with Tomio Koyama Gallery.

Jenny’s diaristic art is often knowingly child-like and expressionistic, and her use of colour and energetic mark-making heightens our empathy with her subjects.  She makes the ordinary extraordinary in her ambiguous narratives, which are often tinged with pathos.  Her work increases our identification with seductively familiar situations, which are personal and specific, yet evocative of our collective memory.  She often paints directly on fabric sourced from a range of cultural contexts which adds further layers of meaning to her work.

Jenny Watson’s talk is free.  Please RSVP to (03) 5352 2836 or by 10 September 2012 to confirm your attendance.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Under My Skin

Ararat Regional Art Gallery launched its newest exhibition, 'Under My Skin' by Cath Johnston on Saturday 18 August 2012 at 2pm.  Cath, an Ararat resident, presented a floor talk and shared stories about the inspiration behind her work.  The focus of this exhibition is her leather-based sculpture, alongside related photographs.  These photographs feature adults and children presented in a squalid domestic environment.  Each photos features a 'prop' made by Cath, an anthropomorphic leather couch fashioned into a human figure - the ultimate couch potato. The actual couch is also including in the exhibition in the installation, 'Still Life'.

'Under My Skin' highlights fragile exterior forms - represented as a ‘skin’ - to comment on deeply personal interior experiences.  Cath’s sculptures, which are hand-made through stitching and moulding leather, shine with sardonic insight and humour to explore themes of fertility, mental health and social disconnection.  

For more information about Cath Johnston, visit her webpage:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Annabel's Homecoming Exhibition

On Saturday 21 July 2012 at 2pm Annabel Kilpatrick's exhibition of contemporary glass, 'Impressions' was officially opened at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery.  We were thrilled to welcome back past Director of the Ararat Gallery (1987-88), Jeffrey Taylor.  Today Jeff is the Creative Produceer, Melbourne Conversations, City of Melbourne.

Annabel Kilpatrick is an Ararat-born glass artist who, since graduating from Monash University in 2007, has established a significant niche for her kiln formed glass which evocatively explores the representation of gestural body language to imply significant moments throughout life.  Describing her work Annabel said: 'I aim to capture a split second of being in its most poignant form...The body can be extremely evocative without a spoken word.  I explore its expressive nature in a way that communicates aspects of being we all share'.

Annabel is currently based in Melbourne, but she grew up on a farming property between Ararat and Great Western and regularly returns home to visit her family.  Her regional connections are strong, and this is also reflected in her work. It was especially exciting to present Annabel's work to the community for the first time as some of her first experiences of art occurred right her in Ararat when her mother Annie was actively involved in the gallery's fundraising committee.  A huge crowd was out in force to welcome Annabel home and celebrate her achievements.

Annabel has exhibited extensively including at Kirra Galleries and Glass Plus in Melbourne.  In 2009 and 2010 she also exhibited her work at the prestigious SOFA Chicago event.  We know a lot of people in the community will now be watching Annabel's artistic journey with great interest.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kate Just - The Knitted Works

(l to r)  Kate Just with Katie Somerville, Curator, Australian Fashion and 
Textiles, National Gallery of Victoria, who opened the exhibition.

Kate Just's exhibition 'The Knitted Works 2004-2011' was opened at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery on Saturday 19 May from 1pm.  A crowd of around 60 people attended the opening, including a bus carrying a lively mix of Kate's family, friends and her Victorian College of the Arts students from Melbourne.

This is an important exhibition for our gallery as it launches our latest acquisition, Kate Just's 'Paradise' (2006).  'Paradise' reinvigorates our gallery's collection development and makes important links to earlier works of soft sculpture in the permanent collection. which extend from 1970s craft-based and second wave feminist art to more recent postmodern investigations into materials and process.  We are excited to present 'Paradise' to the community for the first time and are thrilled to have added such a significant work to our collection.

Kate is an incredibly energetic and talented artist. We had a lot of fun working with her and everyone at the gallery was buoyed by her warm and generous spirit.  Kate's exhibition has only been up for a few days, but it has been interesting to watch how audiences are drawn into the exhibition.  The tactility of the knitting is one reason, but the strong personal narratives underpinning Kate's work also come through, evoking strong and very different emotional responses in gallery visitors.  People are certainly lingering in the exhibition and mostly leaving with a look of amazement on their faces!  Kate's exhibition continues until 8 July 2012.

Coinciding with this survey exhibition in Ararat, Kate Just is presenting new work in the exhibition, 'The Skin of Hope' at Daine Singer in Melbourne.

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Exhibition by Ararat-born artist, David Ray

Ararat-born contemporary ceramicist David Ray's new exhibition has just been installed at Ararat Regional Art Gallery. David is presenting a survey of his neo-baroque ceramics which combine humour with a social critique of class and taste. The exhibition includes a mural painted by David in response to the gallery's architecture.

David's exhibition, 'They don't make 'em like that anymore' will be officially opened by artist Stephen Benwell on Saturday 14 April 2012 at 1pm, however, the exhibition has been open to the public since 5 April. David's show continues until 13 May 2012.

Talking Baskets

Artist Liz Williamson and craft writer Dr Kevin Murray

Christina Sumner, Principal Curator, Design and Society, Powerhouse Museum

Ararat Basketfest 2012 culminated in a symposium at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre on Saturday 31 March 2012 featuring a line up of Australia's foremost fibre artists and curators. The symposium provides a chance for people with an interest in contemporary fibre art and basketry to experience a day of lively discussion and networking amongst peers. It was great to welcome so many passionate basketmakers and key influences in Australian craft to Ararat.

The centrepiece of the entire program has been the 30th anniversary presentation of Douglas Fuchs' influential fibre art installation Floating Forest, presented in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. It was therefore appropriate that the symposium began with a consideration of Douglas Fuchs' influence on Australian basketry by Christina Sumner, Principal Curator, Design and Society at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

Arguably Australia's leading contemporary basketmaker, Virginia Kaiser, was scheduled to speak at the symposium but was unable to attend due to ill health. Virginia was deeply influenced by Douglas Fuchs and her paper was read by her good friend and peer, Wendy Golden. Virginia's 'Memories of Douglas' provided an evocative account of Douglas' visit and of the burgeoning fibre art community of the early 1980s.

The symposium also more broadly explored contemporary fibre art in Australia including the increasingly vital area of Aboriginal basketry. Antoinette Smith, Senior Curator, Indigenous Cultures of Southeastern Australia at Museum Victoria spoke about historic and recent Aboriginal basketry with reference to her museum's collections. In the afternoon, five outstanding artists, Marilyne Nicholls, Maree Brown, Adrienne Kneebone, Bronwyn Razem and Lucy Irvine, spoke about the role of tradition and technique in the creation of contemporary woven forms and shared images of recent work. Kevin Murray written about the symposium on his webpage, Craft Unbound.

The symposium was followed by the official opening of Lucy Irvine’s exhibition, ‘Mapless’ at 5.30pm by Patrick Snelling, Artist and Program Director, Textile Design, School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University. Patrick is also the curator of the 1st Tamworth Textile Triennial which features Lucy Irvine's incredible sculpture, 'Continuous Interruptions', which is featured in the triennial's touring exhibition and has recently been acquired by Tamworth Regional Art Gallery. Lucy's exhibition Mapless continues at Ararat Regional Art Gallery until 7 May 2012.