The Australian Environment: Gippsland Art Gallery
The Australian Environment: Gippsland Art Gallery.
Video created by Singing Bowl Media 2013.
Contact Gippsland Art GalleryCopyright
Gippsland Art Gallery
Gippsland Art Gallery Director, Anton Vardy, and Curator, Simon Gregg, discuss the Gallery's unique collection of artworks depicting the landscape and environment of South Eastern Australia.
The video features artworks by Peter Booth, Mike Brown, Andrew Browne, Victor Majzner, Annemieke Mein and Tony Lloyd.
So the 1960s were an incredible time for the arts in Australia broadly, but specifically for Victoria. And in the middle of this, smack bang in the 1960s, you have the beginning of the Sale Regional Art Center, as it was known then. And for its first 30 years, it operated entirely as a community gallery.
It wasn't until 1994 that the gallery became part of the local shire council, which was Wellington Shire Council. And since that time, we've operated out of the Port of Sale Civic Center. So when visitors enter the Gippsland Art Gallery here in Sale, they'll be entering one of Victoria's premier regional art galleries, which has three large exhibition spaces where we have a rotating program of exhibitions grown from local, national, international artists. We also have a small part of the gallery which is devoted entirely to the permanent collection. But it's always important to remember this is only a very small part of a much bigger collection of over 1,200 art works.
The major themes of the gallery are land of the environment. And that's reflected very much in the development of the permanent collection. And we have a range of works in textiles, drawings, paintings, and sculptures that reflect those things.
One of the things I love about our collection is the way that we tell the history, but we're always actively collecting. Obviously we're not just collecting work for people who visit the gallery today. But we're thinking much more broadly about people coming in 50 years, 100 years. What are we going to tell those people of the art that we have today?
One of the feature works within the gallery collection would have to be Landscape with Fire and Comet by Peter Booth. This is a work that really immerses the viewer. You feel like if you get too close to it, it's just going to swallow you whole.
One of the most striking aspects of it is the thick impasto paint and the way that Peter Booth has squirted it straight out of the tube and then smeared it over the canvas so you get this really visceral experience when you're viewing the work. And it's one of those pieces that the more time you spend with it, the more you get from it.
Another key work in the collection is Untitled by Mike Brown from 1969, which is a really wonderful, crazy, abstract painting bursting with color and life and energy. And when we talk about the beginnings of the gallery in the '60s and the psychedelic period that that happened in, nothing encapsulates that better than Mike Brown's painting. It's a lot of fun, this painting.
So one of the most incredible works in the collection, and the largest work in the collection, is Horizon by Andrew Brown, which over four panels is 11 and 1/2 meters. And what the picture does is it takes us on a journey. We enter the work through one end, and we see a couple of illuminated lights, which might be moons or kind of headlights. And through a series of distorted forms, which we can read as trees being stretched, and then there's neon signs-- so there's the natural and the urban environment-- he takes us on this accelerating view through this world, this kind of man made and natural world. He kind of takes us on this journey into a picture and takes us to another destination.
The Great Shuffle by Victor Majzner is a large abstract painting from 1972. And it's a wonderful dynamic colorful work that can be read as both abstract and in a literal sense in that the artist in creating the work placed 100's & 1000's on a glass slide that he then projected onto the canvas. You can read it as 100's & 1000's. Or in fact we probably prefer people don't, because it just operates so wonderfully as a pure abstract painting.
So another one of the key works in the collection is a piece by local Sale artist Annemieke Mein, who's not only a nationally but in fact world-renowned textile artist. This is a large-scale textile work that's really representative of Annemieke's style in that it's drawn heavily from her field studies in the natural world. In terms of the textile, it's meticulously made, and it has a kind of relief function as well. So it actually comes out at you from the picture plane. And you can see a large butterfly wing actually draping below the surface of the picture.
Another really incredible work that we have in the collection is a painting from 2008 by a Melbourne-based artist Tony Lloyd called Tomorrow Follows Yesterday. One of the things that's really powerful about the work is the way that he's got kind of one foot in this artistic tradition of romanticism and another foot in today's world. Because what he does is that he reminds us that we are here in the 21st century by including this jet kind of flying over the mountains. So there's a lot of different things going on, a lot of interpretations. But at the end of the day, it's a stunning, absolutely beautiful picture, and we're thrilled to have it in the collection.
I think when people come into a public gallery, often they have a preconception of what they're going to see. And to an extent, we want to fill that. We want people to know what they're coming to see and feel comfortable within this environment. But at the same time, we want to take them a little step further where they hadn't expected to go in making people feel as if they've gone on a journey so that when you leave the gallery, it's as if you feel like you've been enriched.