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December 1, 2022

Cream of Australian art on show in Tweed

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Arthur Boyd (1920-1999), Woman in a jinker 1976, oil on canvas, 182.7 x 175.3 cm. Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, Art Acquisition Fund, purchased with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council 1976. © Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust
Arthur Boyd (1920-1999), Woman in a jinker 1976, oil on canvas, 182.7 x 175.3 cm. Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, Art Acquisition Fund, purchased with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council 1976. © Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust

A touring exhitibition featuring multi-million-dollar collection of works by some of Australia’s most renowned artists is currently on show at the Tweed Regional Gallery near Murwillumbah.

Works by John Perceval, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, John Brack, Clifton Pugh, Sam Fullbrook, Margaret Olley and Fred Williams are some of the highlights of the new national touring exhibition, Cream: Four Decades of Australian Art.

The works are some of a total collection of 400 such works housed by the Rockhampton Art Gallery, thanks to an unlikely fundraising drive in the 1970s in what organisers say lifts the lid on ‘one of the greatest art stories of regional Australia never told’.

The touring exhibition chronicles the development of modernism in Australia from 1940 to 1980.

Rockhampton Art Gallery’s collection was conceived in 1976 when the mayor of Rockhampton at the time, Rex Pilbeam, devised and implemented a fundraising campaign to establish a significant art collection for the city of Rockhampton.

Despite the economic recession of 1975, some $500,000 was raised (today, close to $2.7 million) through public subscription, subsidies from Rockhampton City Council and a substantial grant from the federal government’s Australia Council.

A gallery press release says that ‘with great bravado, the gallery’s art acquisition committee cannily snapped up works at a fraction of what they are worth today’.

Fred Williams’ painting Burning Tree at Upwey is one example, purchased for $6,000 and is now worth more than $1 million. Rockhampton Art Gallery’s entire collection is now valued at more than $14 million.

Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984), Drapery in the studio 1940, oil on pulpboard, 65.5 x 57.8 cm Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, Rockhampton Art Gallery Trust Art Acquisition Fund 1995. © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984), Drapery in the studio 1940, oil on pulpboard, 65.5 x 57.8 cm
Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, Rockhampton Art Gallery Trust Art Acquisition Fund 1995. © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

The Cream of Rockhampton’s collection has hit the road thanks to an Australia Council Visions of Australia Touring Grant of more than $150,000. The project has also received financial support from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Gordon Darling Foundation, Regional Arts Development Fund and Rockhampton Regional Council.

Rockhampton art gallery director Tracy Cooper-Lavery said that one of the reasons she took on the role of gallery director in 2011 she ‘knew Rockhampton had a reputation of owning a fantastic collection – but I hadn’t seen it’.

‘Once I arrived, saw what was here and began to research the story behind the collection, I knew this was a unique and remarkable body of work by some of Australia’s greatest artists. It deserved wider recognition, both within the region and the Australian arts community,’ Ms Cooper-Lavery said.

Jeffrey Smart (1921–2013), Fiumicino car park 1975, oil on canvas, 60.2 x 60 cm. Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, Art Acquisition Fund, purchased with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council 1976. © Reproduced with permission of the artist and Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney.
Jeffrey Smart (1921–2013), Fiumicino car park 1975, oil on canvas, 60.2 x 60 cm. Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, Art Acquisition Fund, purchased with the assistance of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council 1976. © Reproduced with permission of the artist and Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney.

Cream: Four Decades of Australian Art will be on display at Tweed Regional Gallery from 20 February to 12 April.

Meanwhile, young art fans have an opportunity to participate in Art Play sessions from 9.30am-10.30am (DST) on Fridays, 13 March, 27 March and 10 April.

Children aged six months to five years are invited to join artist Helle Jorgensen in a guided art play session, using a variety of toys inspired by works in the Cream exhibition. Numbers are strictly limited and bookings essential.

Contact the gallery on 02 6670 2790 to reserve a place.

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. In art there is the trickle down affect and that trickle can be the cream with the value of oil floating, floating on top of the milk of human kindness of artistry. In is all in a mix of the water and the watercolour that is the main body of the total body of work that finds its equilibrium across the spectrum of the colour in the art industry.
    On top, the cream is by the great artists, the cream de la creme of the men and women who create with the magnificence of the brush and the talent of, and in, the tale of great art and its brilliance. That brillance has found its way along the winding road to the local Northern Rivers region and will rest for a while on the earthy slope in the Murwillumbah building, the Tweed Regional Art Gallery on a grassy hill overlooking the Tweed Valley looking to the west, towards the hue of the great icon of our region, Mt Warning. Walk in and reflect on what makes great art. It is creativity.

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