Selection from Bendigo Art Gallery
Bendigo Art Gallery is the perfect fusion of old and new.
One of Australia's largest and oldest regional galleries, Bendigo Art Gallery is known for its emphasis on contemporary Australian art, as well as its collection of 19th century European Art, and 19th and 20th century Australian Art.
Martin Hallett: In celebration of a career
Victoria is privileged to have a robust GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector. The capacity of our sector is the result of work undertaken by many dedicated people. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate a colleague who has played a particularly significant role in ensuring the strength of the Victorian scene.
In April 2016, Martin Hallett retired from his role as Senior Manager of Victorian Cultural Network, part of the Agencies and Infrastructure unit of Creative Victoria. Martin was subsequently awarded with a Victorian Public Service Medal and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Victorian Museum Awards for his four decades of work in the Victorian collections sector.
Paintings Porcelain and Photography
Geelong Gallery was established in 1896 by twelve passionate citizens who believed Victoria's second largest and fastest growing city deserved an art institution befitting an aspiring metropolis. Since then, Geelong Gallery has established a collection of some 6,000 items – significant amongst these items are their holdings of paintings, porcelain and photography.
The gallery’s collection of Australian painting tells the history of the region from colonial times to the early twentieth century. Eugene von Guerard’s View of Geelong provides a sweeping panorama of Geelong seen from a vantage point near the village of Ceres in the nearby Barrabool Hills in 1856. While Arthur Streeton’s painting Ocean blue, Lorne, one of the gallery’s most recent acquisitions, depicts a shimmering summery sky, a view through slender young gum trees and down to the pristine sand and aquamarine ocean below in the 1920’s.
Geelong Gallery has a large and specialised collection of British painted porcelain spanning 1750 – 1850. It is one of the most significant holdings in Australia and is part of a bequest by well-known local citizen Dorothy McAllister. A fine example is the 'Buckingham Palace' card tray by renowned manufacturer Worcester dating to the 1840’s.
The gallery’s photographic collection is very much of the twentieth century, but not without references to earlier times and other works in the collection. Polixeni Papapetrou’s photograph In the Wimmera 1864 #1 created in 2006 examines the narrative of the ‘lost child’ and refers to Frederick McCubbin’s late nineteenth century paintings of children ‘lost’ or at least wandering absent-mindedly through the Australian bush.
What’s Going On!
What’s Going On! was a groundbreaking exhibition presenting contemporary indigenous artists from the Murray Darling basin.
Taking Mildura as the centre, at the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers, the exhibition ranges from Menindee, Wilcannia and Broken Hill to the north and north east, Berri in the south west and Swan Hill to the east, dissolving State boundaries that fragment this distinct region. Uniting the artists in the exhibition are extended family networks and connections to country.
There is a much-loved story told by Aboriginal people on the Murray, that when you open out the swim bladder of a Murray cod, the tree-like forms of its skin reveal the place where the fish was born. Aboriginal children are sometimes told that this is the very same tree under which they were born. These various skin stories reveal the connection of people to the Murray Darling river system, where ‘everyone has a place under the tree’.
World War One: Coming Home
From 1920 until 1993, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre operated first as Bundoora Convalescence Farm and then as Bundoora Repatriation Hospital.
For more than seventy years, it was home to hundreds of returned servicemen. These men were not only physically damaged by their wartime experiences, their mental health was also dramatically affected. Despite the severe trauma, sometimes it took years or decades for the conditions to emerge.
For some servicemen, this meant being unable to sleep, hold down a job, maintain successful relationships or stay in one place, whilst others experienced a range of debilitating symptoms including delusions and psychosis. While these men tried to cope as best they could, they were rarely encouraged to talk openly about what they had seen or done. The experience of war haunted their lives and the lives of their families as they attempted to resume civilian life.
At this time, there was little understanding around trauma and mental health. For some returned servicemen and their families, it was important that their mental illness was acknowledged as being a consequence of their war service. This was not only due to social stigma associated with mental illness generally, but also because war pensions provided families with greater financial security.
This is as much the story of the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital as it is the story of a mother and daughter uncovering the history of the man who was their father and grandfather respectively. That man was Wilfred Collinson, who was just 19 when he enlisted in the AIF. He fought in Gallipoli and on the Western Front, saw out the duration of the war and returned home in 1919. He gained employment with the Victorian Railways and met and married Carline Aminde. The couple went on to have four children. By 1937, Wilfred Collinson’s mental state had deteriorated and he would go on to spend the remainder of his life – more than 35 years – as a patient at Bundoora.
We know so little about the lives and stories of men like Wilfred, the people who cared for them, the people who loved them and the people they left behind. For the most part the voices of the men themselves are missing from their own narrative and we can only interpret their experiences through the words of authorities and their loved ones.
Getting it Right
There is a great deal of effort that goes into preparing a museum garment for display which the public never sees. This is especially true for historical items.
Most obviously, there is the core work that our textile conservators do examining and treating works so that they are safe to exhibit. Equally vital is the task of creating the appropriate underpinnings and padded supports which ensure a garment has a historically accurate silhouette, and that the fragile fabrics are supported during display.
During the nineteenth century a lot went on beneath women’s gowns. Victorian fashion relied on a variety of contrivances to generate form; corsets compressed the waist, petticoats, crinolines and later cage-crinolines made skirts wider and fuller, while bustles produced a cantilevered behind. Working in tandem with the garment, these structures performed both functional and aesthetic roles.
New Arrivals and Diaspora
From Colonial Settlers in the 1800s, to recent arrivals; from expatriate artists to artists that grapple with identity, politics and place: these works from the National Gallery of Victoria explore one of the great themes of Australian Art, revolving around the migrant experience, distance, identity, race and nationhood.
State Film Centre
Designed to collect and maintain a film library for general public consumption, the State Film Centre was established in 1946.
It became a leading cultural institution for not only the archiving of Australian and international cinematic works but in supporting the Victorian production industry, providing regional lending services and broadening audience reach through the use of mobile projection units.
With technological change, the Centre adapted to new media platforms and broadened its collections focus to include emerging filmmakers and student works. It evolved from a collection-based institution to a hub for screening and advocacy and increased its role as an invaluable education resource.
Into the 1990s work commenced on plans to establish the Australian Centre for the Moving Image as part of the Federation Square project and on January 1, 2002, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image was officially established by the Film Act 2001 (Victoria).
Hamilton Gallery / Public Galleries Association of Victoria
From Watercolours to Decorative Arts
Bequests have been critical to Victoria’s regional galleries, with the wealth generated from farming and the discovery of gold in leading to the establishment and the continuous expansion from colonial times through to today.
Hamilton Art Gallery was established through a bequest from a local grazier, Herbert Buchanan Shaw. The Shaw Bequest consisted of paintings and prints, European silver and glass as well as English, Chinese and Japanese ceramics dating from the 18th century.
Ten years after it was established, Hamilton Art Gallery acquired a group of watercolours by 18th century painter Paul Sandby through a grant from the state government. An upper floor was added to the gallery to accommodate these works.
The collection has continued to grow through gifts, grants and bequests. The original bequest of 870 items has expanded to 8,500 items, making Hamilton Art Gallery one of the largest and most diverse regional gallery collections in Australia, spanning watercolours to decorative arts.
Today, the gallery is divided into six spaces – upstairs you will find the Sandby collection, Asian art, the Print room and Australian art, while on the ground floor you will discover the Shaw Gallery of decorative arts and the Ashworth Gallery for travelling exhibitions.
Featured here is a selection of works from the gallery’s collection – from watercolours by Paul Sandy to world class examples of decorative arts together with work by Australian artists dating from the 19th century to contemporary times. Watch a video to learn about the initial Shaw Bequest and experience the richness and diversity of Hamilton Art Gallery’s collection acquired through the generosity of benefactors and governments over the past fifty years.
Born in a Trunk and Living in a Suitcase
Whether bonded by blood or shared experience, family strongly underpins the foundations of the performing arts industry. "I was born in a trunk" is a familiar introductory phrase used by those born of theatrical parents.
This story tells of the great Australian theatrical managements of J.C. Williamson Ltd (The Firm), and the Tivoli Circuit.
It also provides insights into Australian theatrical families such as: Tony Sheldon, his mother Toni Lamond, father Frank Sheldon, grandparents Max Reddy and Stella Lamond, and aunt Helen Reddy; and Val Jellay and her husband Maurie Fields, who met and married while touring together in the travelling company Sorlie's.
In the theatrical industry people like Irene Mitchell, artistic director of the Little Theatre which became St Martin's Youth Arts Centre, Gertrude Johnson, artistic director of the National Theatre, and Betty Pounder, choreographer and casting agent for J.C. Williamson, provided role models and mentoring for a generation of Melbourne actors and performers.
The text above has been abstracted from an essay Born in a trunk and living out of a suitcase written by Carolyn Laffan for the publication The Australian Family: Images and Essays. The full text of the essay is available as part of this story.
The Performing Arts Museum (now known as The Arts Centre, Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection) produced the exhibition Kindred Spirits - The Performing Arts Family as part of The Australian Familyproject, which involved 20 Victorian museums and galleries. The full series of essays and images are available in The Australian Family: Images and Essays published by Scribe Publications, Melbourne 1998, edited by Anna Epstein. The book comprises specially commissioned and carefully researched essays with accompanying artworks and illustrations from each participating institution.
The Leviny Sisters
Buda historic house and garden in Castlemaine is a remarkable archive of a family, occupied by two generations of the Leviny family over 118 years.
Ernest, who bought the house in 1863, and Bertha Leviny had 10 children, all of whom enjoyed a happy and privileged home life and received a well-rounded education, particularly in the arts. Five of the six Leviny daughters spent most of their lives at Buda, and the house and garden contains a rich legacy of their creative spirit.
Mary Florence, Beatrice Kate, Gertrude Olga Louise, Bertha Dorothy and Hilda Geraldine grew up at a time when women were being given opportunities for a higher education, and the Leviny girls were encouraged to do this. Their father’s wealth, resulting from his success in business on the Castlemaine goldfields, gave them choices in life, and they were under no particular pressure to marry or earn a living.
These five Leviny daughters remained single, giving them the freedom to pursue their creative interests in such things as painting, woodcarving, metalwork, needlework and photography. Some of their art and craft works were included in exhibitions, but it was mostly created for pleasure: to decorate and use in their home.
After Ernest’s death in 1905 the daughters commenced a redecoration of Buda in the Arts and Craft style. Victorian furnishings and fittings were replaced by simpler Federation-style details. Hand-painted friezes, decorative and useful items, soft furnishings, metalwork, embroideries, and beautifully carved furniture made by the sisters are still to be seen in and around the house at Buda.
It may have been considered an unusual lifestyle choice for young women in the late 1800s, but the Leviny sisters were part of a wave of change, resulting from early women’s rights activities at that time, which presented them with opportunities and choices. Their motivation, coupled with their financial independence, allowed them to pursue self-determined lifestyles. They continued to create works of art and craft well into the twentieth century with Dorothy, the most prolific artist of the sisters, still creating work in metals when she was in her seventies.
It was largely due to the foresight of last surviving sister, Hilda, that Buda was preserved as a house and garden museum when she sold the property to the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1970. Her sisters, Mary and Kate, left a broader civic legacy through their involvement in establishing the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1913, and assisting with the development of the gallery’s fine collection of prints in the late 1920s.
Text adapted from the booklet Buda and the Leviny Family, Lauretta Zilles (2011).
Scoot is a location based game produced to explore mobile phone technology and as a playful way to engage with Melbourne’s key cultural institutions. Scoot was created by artist Debra Polson through the Queensland University of Technology and produced by ACMI in collaboration with various cultural partners.
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is a world leading cultural institution dedicated to celebrating and exploring games. As the first cultural centre in the world to have a dedicated games lab space, ACMI has been involved in the development and research of location based games.
Such location-based gaming allows for the development of relationships between people and spaces. Participant awareness of Melbourne’s cultural resources increases as they feel more comfortable engaging in the history and identity of the city via its arts institutions.
Artist and academic Debra Polson currently lectures in the field of interaction design at the Queensland University of Technology and is a project leader at the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID). Debra has worked as an interface designer on interactive games and various other multimedia productions and continues to design location-based games.
Her research interests lie in new immersive forms of game play that blur the edges between the digital and physical realms with a particular focus on the community interactions that emerge from these experiences and the potential for new multi-modal forms of entertainment and education within those communities.
Currently researchers and artists have been experimenting with ways to apply new forms of mobile technologies combined with digital media to examine new ways for people to interact in both physical and virtual spaces. Debra Polson has been particularly interested in how effectively they enhance the relationships between location, participants and cultural activities.
Possum Skin Cloaks
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are warned that this material may contain images and voices of deceased persons, and images of places that could cause sorrow.
Continuing the practice of making and wearing possum skin cloaks has strengthened cultural identity and spiritual healing in Aboriginal communities across Victoria.
Embodying 5,000 years of tradition, cultural knowledge and ritual, wearing a possum skin cloak can be an emotional experience. Standing on the barren escarpment of Thunder Point with a Djargurd Wurrong cloak around his shoulders, Elder Ivan Couzens felt an enormous sense of pride in what it means to be Aboriginal.
In this story, eight Victorian Elders are pictured on Country and at home in cloaks that they either made or wore at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
In a series of videos, the Elders talk about the significance of the cloaks in their lives, explain the meanings of some of the designs and motifs, and reflect on how the cloaks reinforce cultural identity and empower upcoming generations.
Uncle Ivan’s daughter, Vicki Couzens, worked with Lee Darroch, Treahna Hamm and Maree Clarke on the cloak project for the Games. In the essay, Vicki describes the importance of cloaks for spiritual healing in Aboriginal communities and in ceremony in mainstream society.
Traditionally, cloaks were made in South-eastern Australia (from northern NSW down to Tasmania and across to the southern areas of South Australia and West Australia), where there was a cool climate and abundance of possums. From the 1820s, when Indigenous people started living on missions, they were no longer able to hunt and were given blankets for warmth. The blankets, however, did not provide the same level of waterproof protection as the cloaks.
Due to the fragility of the cloaks, and because Aboriginal people were often buried with them, there are few original cloaks remaining. A Gunditjmara cloak from Lake Condah and a Yorta Yorta cloak from Maiden's Punt, Echuca, are held in Museum Victoria's collection. Reproductions of these cloaks are held at the National Museum of Australia.
A number of international institutions also hold original cloaks, including: the Smithsonian Institute (Washington DC), the Museum of Ethnology (Berlin), the British Museum (London) and the Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography (Rome).
Cloak-making workshops are held across Victoria, NSW and South Australia to facilitate spiritual healing and the continuation of this traditional practice.
Dame Nellie Melba
“...the voice, pure and limpid, with an adorable timbre and perfect accuracy, emerges with the greatest ease.” Arthur Pougin, in Le Ménestral (Paris), May 12, 1889.
Dame Nellie Melba (1861 – 1931), was Australia’s opera superstar, performing in the great opera houses of the world - the Paris Opera, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera House, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where she became prima donna, returning season after season.
The extensive Melba Collection at the Victorian Arts Centre includes costumes, records, accessories, letters, programs, photographs, opera scores and other personal effects. Other holdings of interest include 78rpm disks at the State Library of Victoria.
Set and costume design
By exploring aspects of the J. C. Williamson Archive at the Arts Centre, and interviewing scenic artist Paul Kathner, we get a sense of the behind the scenes work involved in creating the visual effect of theatre.
Curator Margaret Marshall introduces us to a Williamson scenebook from the 1920s, and to costume designs from the late 19th and early 20th century, and Paul invites us to explore his craft and his career with major theatre companies for the past 50 years.
Textiles and Fibre Art
Established in 1968, Ararat Regional Art Gallery has a unique collection of textiles and fibre art dating from the 1970s, '80s and '90s through to now.
The gallery started collecting work in the 70’s arising from Australia’s growing craft movement – including glass and ceramics. A decision was later made to focus the collection on textiles to reflect the region’s historical association with fine merino wool production. The gallery now has over 1,200 items in its collection, with pivotal works by leading Australian and international artists working in fibre and textiles.
Textiles have been woven from fibre to create clothing and other items since prehistoric times. The 1960’s were a time of great change, with feminism entering the general lexicon and encouraging a questioning of the status quo. Initially aligned with 'women’s work', textiles have become a rich field for both male and female artists to examine gendered roles and social mores, as well as the boundaries of artistic practice.
Ararat Regional Art Gallery’s collection provides an invaluable history of textiles and fibre arts, and in doing so, it maps the influential role fibre and textiles have played in extending the boundaries both of visual art and social parameters.
Contemporary works featured in the gallery’s collection continue this tradition, with Lucas Grogan’s hand embroidered quilt offering a critique of contemporary culture.
Featured here are twenty representative works from the gallery’s textile and fibre art collection. Watch a video to learn about the history of Ararat Regional Art Gallery’s collection and see works by artists John Corbett (Australia), Olga de Amaral (Columbia), Tony Dyer (Australia), Kate Just (USA/Australia), Sebastian Di Mauro (Australia) and Yvonne Koolmatrie (Australia/Ngarrandjeri).