An Art History of Australia: Art Gallery of Ballarat
Australian history comes to life as Pauline O'Shannessy-Dowling and Peter Freund from the Art Gallery of Ballarat discuss key works from its collection.
The film features from the earliest acquisitions through to the most current - including Solomon J Solomon, Tom Roberts, Fred Williams, Jeffrey Smart and Lorraine Connelly-Northey.
The Art Gallery Association. So essentially the Art Gallery was established in 1884. And it is the oldest and largest regional gallery in Australia. One of the main figures behind founding the gallery was James Oddie, who came out to Australia searching for gold, and made his fortune here on the Ballarat gold fields, eventually through real estate. And he could say that there was a need in Ballarat for a place where people could go and appreciate culture.
Well as well as our dynamic program of temporary exhibitions, we have an extraordinary collection. It's a representative collection that goes from the very first years of European settlement through to very contemporary works. One example is the Eugene von Guerard Bushfire painting, for instance. Bushfire [INAUDIBLE]
Bushfire image is such a strong work. And he's so much into aspects of the Australian experience and the Australian psyche.
It's a reasonably small painting in size, but the color really hits you. And you really do get a sense of the enormity of that natural disaster.
The display of our permanent collection starts with that first generation of Ballarat settlers, and their idea of what a gallery should contain and show. And perhaps the most impressive of those is Ajax and Cassandra.
We have this wonderful story about Ajax and Cassandra. Norman Lindsay-- who of course is a famous Australian artist who was born in Creswick-- used to come to the Art Gallery of Ballarat with his grandfather. And that's one of the works that he was struck by, and that always stayed with him. So it's really one of those iconic works that we hold at the Gallery here. And people do remember is. And people do come to the Gallery to see it.
We're very lucky here at the Art Gallery of Ballarat to have a very substantial representation of works by the Australian Impressionist artists. Particularly Tom Roberts. We've got some key works by him. And one of those is Summer Morning Tiff, which shows an argument between a young woman and her lover, who has disappeared in a huff off in the background. The dog's not sure which of them to align with, perhaps.
What Roberts was able to do was really capture that sort of sense of the kind of isolation that she's feeling at this very moment when she's had this argument with her lover.
It shows how those impressionists could view the bush in a number of different ways, use their vision of the bush to show even domestic interaction. And we have a couple of important works by the landscape artist Fred Williams. The work really shows Fred Williams' very distinctive and clear vision of the Australian landscape, and his trail of elements in the landscape in a very particular and distinctive and individual way. And then you've got this slash of the red fox running through it. It's a very, very evocative and really a very striking piece.
Williams developed that very distinctive way of depicting the Australian Bush. He uses that high horizon line in a lot of his works. It's become a feature of his work. And part of the reason that he was doing that was to show the big expansive of the Australian landscape.
Jeffrey Smart's The Listeners from the Ballarat collection is a work that dates from the time when Jeffrey Smart departed from Australia to live permanently in Italy. It's one of his last Australian works that were painted in Australia. And it's a very curious and enigmatic work, like much of his work.
The contrast between the man and the technology. It's something that is very open to interpretation, very available for interpretation.
That's one of the things I love about galleries today, is that it's all about the viewer, and about what you think about a work. You can decide what you think of the color, about the composition, about the theme. You know, we all have that capacity to look, and think, and feel, and to express that.
This very striking, engaging work-- the string bag made of barbed wire-- Narrbong by Lorraine Connelly-Northey. She's a Waradgerie woman based in Swan Hill, who uses found objects as her art form.
So we have this old, rusty barbed wire formed into this beautiful, big dilly bag, as it's called. And you can see that the artist has created this piece with a great deal of love, and of course, a great deal of skill.
It's very much a signpost to where the Gallery has been going recently, and where the Gallery will continue to grow over the next few years. Ensuring our collection is inclusive, is broad, continues to be engaging and interesting in all sorts of different ways.