Wednesday, December 9, 2009

58th Blake Prize Touring Exhibition

Above: (l to r) Mrs Penny Hawker, Hon David Hawker MP, exhibiting artist Dianne Coulter and Gallery Director Anthony Camm; Mr Hawker addressing the audience at the opening.

We were very pleased to welcome Member for Wannon, the Hon David Hawker MP, to officially open the 58th Blake Prize Touring Exhibition last Saturday afternoon. The exhibition comes to Ararat direct from its unveiling in Sydney. We also welcomed Blake Prize Finalist and Winner of the inaugural Human Justice Award, Dianne Coulter, who provided closing remarks.

Presented by the Blake Society, named after the visionary artist and poet William Blake, the Blake Prize was established in 1951 to encourage artists to create significant works of art with religious content. Today the Blake Prize attracts fresh, contemporary expressions of spirituality, with artists extending the envelope to encompass a wide diversity of religious expression that make up the landscape of belief in Australia.

The touring exhibition features the work of 30 finalists including the winning work 'Rapture (silent anthem)' – a silent video created by Angelica Mesiti. Filmed from a concealed position under the stage at the Big Day Out music festival, Mesiti’s video captures the ecstatic faces of young music fans and intriguingly connects a contemporary cultural moment with art historical references and Christian iconography.

The Gallery is pleased to be the exclusive Victorian presenter of this exhibition and anticipates strong attendances due to the Blake Prize’s high profile as one of Australia’s leading art prizes. The exhibition continues until 16 January 2010.

Raku Pottery Workshop

Above: Raku workshop photos by Lee Albert

On Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November eight dedicated participants joined in an intensive two-day Raku pottery workshop hosted by Ararat Regional Art Gallery. The workshop was presented by accomplished local potter John Eagle and offered a hands-on introduction to the ancient Raku pottery process – an area of ceramics production actively pursued by John for almost 40 years.

Following a demonstration about how to construct a kiln, participants were quickly immersed in the fascinating process of waxing and glazing ceramics. Beginners had the opportunity to glaze a range of pots and tiles that John had prepared earlier. More experienced participants brought their own pots and sculptures with them ready for glazing and firing. The participants had an opportunity to experiment with a range of glazes made from John’s recipes containing different metal oxides.

The pieces created over the weekend were all incredibly varied and it was especially fascinating to observe how seemingly random occurrences in the firing process led to amazing effects and colour variations. The weekend concluded with workshop participants selecting their favourite pieces for inclusion in a group exhibition at the Gallery, which will continue until 20 December 2009.

John’s recent Raku exhibition and workshop, together with the current resulting workshop group exhibition, have been presented as part of the state-wide celebration of Ceramics Victoria’s 40th anniversary. Thank you to John for sharing his expertise and enthusiasm for pottery and also for generously donating proceeds from artwork sales from his recent Raku exhibition to support future Gallery acquisitions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Focus on Pottery

Visitors enjoying the 'Excellence of Ware' exhibition

Raku ceramics by John Eagle

The Gallery is presently filled with pots, old and new. Our key exhibition is 'Excellence of Ware: Bendigo Pottery Majolica 1879–1911' from Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, which brings together historic majolica ware from public and private collections, including some extremely rare pieces. The exhibition features a range of objects including elaborate water filters and garden urns, through to common household wares and decorative objects that were found on 19th century dressing tables.

'Excellence of Ware' is the third major exhibition curated by ceramics expert Gregory Hill, focusing on Victorian potteries. It is the culmination of 30 years of research by Gregory into the history of Bendigo Pottery - Australia’s oldest working pottery. We were pleased to welcome Dr Jacqueline Healy, Director of the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre to officially open the exhibition on Friday 24 November 2009 at 6pm. Dr Healy’s opening remarks gave the appreciative audience a greater understanding of the featured objects and the circumstances in which they were created. The following day Dr Healy presented a more extensive floor talk as a part of our 'Get Into Art' program.

Fifteen children who had chosen a Gallery visit as their Golden Gateway Festival Children's Week activity also had an opportunity to experience the exhibition. Local artist Amelia Kingston encouraged the children to draw their favourite pieces in the exhibition and this was followed by an opportunity to try their hand at making their own ceramic pots and sculptures.

The Gallery will soon host another workshop - this time for adults - to be conducted by renowned Ararat-based potter John Eagle. John will present a special Raku workshop on the weekend of 21 and 22 November 2009. Places are limited, so now is the time to let us know if you would like to be involved. The workshop complements John's current exhibition of Raku ceramics presented in our front gallery until 22 November 2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Barry Dickins in Ararat

Above (l to r): Peter Waterman, Barry Dickins and Evelyn Curley

We were very honoured to welcome writer and visual artist Barry Dickins to the Gallery on Monday 12 October 2009. Barry is a regular visitor to the Grampians region where he teaches special sessions to primary students at a cluster of local rural schools. We are very grateful to Barry for agreeing to present a talk during his current visit to the region.

Barry spoke of his memories of growing up in Melbourne's northern suburbs and discussed the influences that set him on the path to becoming an artist and writer. He also discussed his recovery from depression, which he has written about in the recently published book, Unparalleled Sorrow. Even when speaking about depression, Barry's warmth and humour shone through. His talk inspired many questions and good humoured banter with the audience that is testament to his gift as a communicator.

Thank you to Maroona Primary School Principal Peter Waterman for arranging Barry's visit to the Gallery, and Ararat Library librarian Evelyn Curley for co-presenting Barry's talk and promoting it through her networks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Albert Tucker exhibition

Above: Geoffrey Smith delivering his opening remarks; Exhibition curator Ivan Durrant at the exhibition opening.

We are experiencing a surge in visitor numbers at present- all due to a very special exhibition of paintings by one of Australia's most important 20th century artists, Albert Tucker. The exhibition is titled 'The Intruder: The Perfect Allegory' and was originally curated by Ivan Durrant for Benalla Art Gallery. Most of the paintings are from the collection of Barbara Tucker, who has generously loaned these treasured paintings for the exhibition. Other important paintings have been loaned from the National Gallery of Victoria and Heide Museum of Modern Art.

The majority of the featured paintings are from the 1960s and were created by Albert Tucker following his return to Australia from Europe and are deeply informed by his immersion in the Australian bush after establishing a home in Hurstbridge in the early 1960s. The works feature haunting and conflicting images that explore the dangers of the Australian bush and the life and death struggles of explorers and other human intruders.

On Saturday 19 September at 2pm we were honoured to welcome Barbara Tucker and exhibition curator Ivan Durrant to Ararat for the exhibition opening. We were especially pleased that Geoffrey Smith, Director and National Head of Art, Bonhams and Goodman and former Curator of Australian Art at the National Gallery of Victoria was able to find the time to visit Ararat to formally open the exhibition. Geoffrey knows the work of Albert Tucker very well and his opening remarks provided a valuable context for those in attendance to better appreciate the exhibition.

Thank you to everyone who attended. It was a wonderful afternoon celebration amongst Gallery friends and supporters. Thanks especially to Off the Beaten Track Art and Wine Gallery / Mount Cole Wineworks for suporting the exhibition through providing their excellent wines at the opening.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lao Textile Launch

We had a great turn out for the launch of "Weaving Dreams and Aspirations: Lao Textiles" on Saturday 8 August 2009. The exhibition is curated by Valerie Kirk, a tapestry weaver and Head of Textiles at the Australian National University School of Art, and aims to highlight the rich textile traditions of Laos. It was great to see so many familiar faces from the regional textiles community in attendance.

Our guest speaker was Boby Vosinthavong, who operates the fair trade business, Lao Silk & Craft and is the Australian representative for the Lao Sericulture and Phontong / Camacrafts Handicrafts Cooperative (aka 'Mulberries'). Mulberries is a not for profit company established by Boby's mother, Kommaly Chanthavong, that seeks to create income generating opportunities for Lao people in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner. In her talk, Boby explained how Mulberries manages the process of creating high quality silk products from the growing of silk cocoons, the dying with natural materials and the painstaking task of weaving. Boby demonstrated the first stage of the production of silk - the reeling of raw silk from cocoons. It was great to welcome Boby and her family to Ararat to share the unique Mulberries story and to provide a context for appreciating the exquisite work in the exhibition.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Artists' Ink Opening

Above: (l to r) Cathy Hoffman, Textile Teacher, South West TAFE; Angie Taylor, Acting Curator, Warrnambool Art Gallery; Philippa Hynam, Front of House Coordinator, Warrnambool Art Gallery.

Above: (l to r) Anthony Camm, Director, Ararat Regional Art Gallery; Adam Harding, Director, Horsham Regional Art Gallery; Brenda O'Connor, Acting Director, Warrnambool Art Gallery. Photos: Peter Pickering

Our current exhibition, 'Artists' Ink: printmaking from the Warrnambool Art Gallery Collection 1970-2001', was officially opened on Saturday 27 June at 2pm by Brenda O'Connor, Acting Director, Warrnambool Art Gallery. 'Artists' Ink' features 60 prints that track the rise of late 20th century printmaking in Australia. The exhibition features the work of independent specialist printmakers alongside notable artists who collaborated with master printmakers at the various print workshops that came of age during the 1970s and 1980s. The exhibition continues until 2 August 2009.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Viceregal Visit

Above: The Governor and Mrs de Kretser meeting exhibiting artist, Julie Shiels (left).

We were incredibly honoured to welcome The Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser AC and Mrs Jan de Kretser to the Ararat Regional Art Gallery on 20 May 2009. Our exhibiting artists, Julie Shiels and Tamara Marwood, were introduced to the Governor and Mrs de Kretser and spoke to them about their respective exhibitions. There was a great moment when an unsuspecting young visitor and his dad were formally introduced to the Governor. It was a very exciting day for all associated with the Gallery.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tamara and Julie's Exhibition Opening

Installation view of exhibitions: 'Flock' (above) & 'Handcrafted Landscape' (below). Photos by Peter Pickering.

We are currently presenting two very different, though subtly related exhibitions by Bendigo region artist, Tamara Marwood and St Kilda-based artist, Julie Shiels.

We had the great honour of welcoming Professor Lyndal Jones from the School of Creative Media, RMIT University and Director of The Avoca Project to open Tamara and Julie’s exhibitions last Saturday afternoon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Education Week

Photographs from Ararat West Primary School's linocut workshop with Sarah Bartlett. Photographs courtesy of Leeanne Hahnel.

Education Week was celebrated by kindergartens and Victorian government schools last week from May 17 to 23. Ararat Regional Art Gallery marked the event with a series of art workshops to enhance and build on existing art activities which students are exposed to through the school curriculum. The workshops were funded through a grant from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

This year seven schools with a combined total of almost 150 students participated in six workshop sessions held over three days. Pomonal ceramicist Amelia Kingston introduced students from Beaufort and Ararat North primary schools to pottery. Ararat artist Sarah Bartlett introduced students from Stawell, Landsborough and Ararat West primary schools to the rewarding linocut printmaking process. Bendigo-region artist Tamara Marwood, who was in Ararat for the installation of her current exhibition ‘Handcrafted Landscape’, presented felt key ring making workshops for students from Great Western and Maroona primary schools.

Thanks to Amelia, Sarah and Tamara for their commitment and to all the teachers, parents and students who attended and helped make our Education Week workshop program a great success.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How You Make It - ABC Ballarat interview

Thanks to ABC Ballarat for visiting Ararat for our recent presentation of 'How You Make It', a Craft Victoria - NETS Victoria touring exhibition of contemporary fashion, curated by Kate Rhodes. Lisa Moncrieff interviewed me as we walked through the exhibition. Click here to listen to the interview on-line. Next stop for 'How You Make It' is Mildura Arts Centre, where it will be presented from 11 June to 15 July.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ARAG 40th anniversary essay by Kevin Murray

Ararat Regional Art Gallery celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 with an exhibition (held from 4 December 2008 to 26 January 2009) that featured 40 artists from its permanent collection. The process of developing and presenting the exhibition was incredibly valuable, leading to renewed critical engagement with the collection for staff and audiences and facilitating a reconnection with represented artists, many who returned to Ararat after many years.

A room brochure was published for the occasion and we were fortunate to have Dr Kevin Murray write an essay to mark ARAG's 40th anniversary. Kevin has posted the essay entitled, 'From Macrame to Digital Looms: Threads of Australian Identity' on his website. Hard copies of the brochure are available - if you'd like to receive a copy, just let us know.