Monday, July 29, 2013

Permanent Collection

Yvonne Koolmatrie, ‘Large Eel Trap’ 2012, woven sedge, 224 x 49cm (variable), Purchased with Ararat Rural City Council annual allocation, 2012, Ararat Regional Art Gallery Collection, Photo: Chris Koolmatrie

We often receive enquiries about the Ararat Regional Art Gallery's permanent collection, but it is not possible to present a good representation of the collection at any one time. However, to mark our 45th birthday we recently presented collection works across all galleries in the 'Big Time' and 'Bold Beginnings' exhibitions and these shows attracted a very positive response. For locals it was a chance to revisit old friends, and for visitors from out of town a chance to get a very real sense of the collection's strengths and unique character. These exhibitions were enhanced by two articles which appeared in The Weekend Australian highlighting objects from the collection by Annemieke Mein and Olga De Amaral, offering considerable national exposure to Ararat.

The collection focus continues into winter with our current retrospective, 'Making Time: The Art of John Corbett 1974-2013'. John is one of Australia's foremost fibre artists and the most represented artist in the gallery's collection. The exhibition features 18 works of great diversity from quilts, embroideries and woven sculptures.

Community members can expect to see our program draw increasingly on the collection in the future.
Our summer programming will now annually feature collection based shows, with an exhibition of recent acquisitions planned for later this year. This will create a context to present recent acquisitions for the first time, including works by established fibre artists such as Nalda Searles and Diana Wood Conroy, alongside innovative contemporary works by Sebastian Di Mauro and Starlie Geikie.

Given the importance of weaving and fibre in Aboriginal culture, it is disappointing that Aboriginal fibre artists have long been underrepresented in the permanent collection. To correct this underrepresentation Yvonne Koolmatrie was commissioned to create one of her signature large eel traps to form the centrepiece of a sub-collection which will focus on the indigenous fibre art of South Eastern Australia.Yvonne Koolmatrie is a Ngarrindjerri woman and a pivotal figure in the rise of Aboriginal fibre craft since the 1980s, especially through highlighting the cultural importance of weaving to cultural continuity for Aboriginal people in South Australia and Victoria.

Her large eel trap was woven in the first half of 2012 in the artist's home town of Berri in South Australia, and the work features woven sedge which was harvested from the Murray River near her home.
This elegant eel trap will join other beautiful and intriguing art works in our recent acquisitions summer exhibition.