Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

troublemag | December 15, 2018

Scroll to top

Top

Ararat Gallery TAMA

Animalia Australis
19 October 2018 – 20 January 2019

Animalia Australis is an Art Gallery of Ballarat touring exhibition that tells a remarkable story of art in the service of science during a period when Australia was opening up its secrets to the scientific fraternity and to a general public with a marvellous appetite for the weird and wonderful.

These images of the exotic and wildly beautiful things from the upside-down world of the Antipodes reflect the first encounters between white explorers, scientists and settlers with the animals of the Southern Continent, highlighting the prevailing perceptions and depictions of native fauna of the period.

While Indigenous Australians had at least 50,000 years to adapt to and familiarise themselves with the unique flora and fauna of this continent, for Europeans the process took place over little more than 250 years. The name Australia derives from the Latin Terra Australis (the Land of the South) which until the end of the Middle Ages was also ‘incognita’ – unknown and unseen by Europeans and therefore a place where the imagination ran wild.

Australian plants and animals were often shockingly different to anything they had seen before. Black swans were conceived in the imagination of European philosophers before they had ever been seen. The existence of a black as opposed to a white swan was proposed on the grounds that anything coming from the Antipodes — the opposite to the ‘normal’ and ‘known’ world — would be an antithesis to the normal and predictable.

Many of these ‘new’ animals, such as egg-laying mammals, were also simply terrifying. But there was also an exotic and intriguing beauty to be encountered, documented and published. The European settlement of Australia occurred at exactly the time when advances in science meant that people had both the means to describe these new discoveries, and the inspiration and interest to do so.

Australian birds attracted attention from both the scientific world and amateur ornithologists. There were many spectacular Australian birds, of which the parrots are probably the most beautiful, but there were also species which were bizarre either in appearance or behaviour, such as the lyrebird, the cassowary and the emu. It is not surprising that lavishly illustrated publications were produced during the nineteenth century, of which John Gould’s The Birds of Australia is probably the best known.

While many of the works come from the time of first contact by Europeans, others reflect a more systematic approach which prevailed as the scientific community in Australia became more familiar with the continent’s natural history — scientific publications proliferated after the middle of the nineteenth century, as Australian museums competed with each other to publish and describe newly found species.

Victoria, the wealthiest colony, published a set of descriptions of the fauna that could be found within its borders. In compiling it, Frederick McCoy, the Director of Victoria’s Museum of Natural and Applied Sciences, had access to some of the colony’s most talented natural artists, including the German Ludwig Becker and the Swiss Friedrich Schoenfeld. At the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Keepers of Natural History brought out monographs devoted to insects, snakes and mammals, with most of the illustrations being undertaken by the talented sisters Helena and Harriet Scott.

This Art Gallery of Ballarat Exhibition was first seen in Cairns in 2017 and went on show at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in 2018. It draws from the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s extensive collection of images of flora and fauna, and follows the successful exhibition Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art, which went on show in Ballarat in 2012 and toured to Cairns, New England and Sydney.

PAUL E MASON: LOOKING FOR BAUDIN – 21st Century Reliquaries Encounter c.1800 Terra Australis – 19 October 2018 – 20 January 2019

“Baudin saw no justification for dispossessing the Tasmanians of their land. His observations of their life and customs had not led him to believe that they would benefit from the çivilizing’influence of the Europeans, as Peron believed the Aborigines of Port Jackson had done.” ‘Encountering Terra Australis’, J Fornasiero and J West-Sooby, 2004

An art exhibition that references the Baudin expedition might lead one to expect realist work influenced by the Enlightenment tradition of the artist scientist. Paul E Mason, however, references another artistic tradition, that of the reliquary. While he eschews the directly religious and spiritual connections of the reliquary, Mason preserves the relic’s symbolic density and concern with veneration and celebration of the object and its link to larger themes. Thus Mason uses gold and gold leaf from Imperial France and diorite from Aboriginal Australia as materials that confer sacred value on otherwise ordinary objects. Mason’s representations of human beings, whether European or Indigenous also eschews the Enlightenment humanism of the Baudin expedition artists. He adopts an archetypal mode of representation that allows us to see a differently patterned colonial encounter. – Gerald Gill, Sociologist, LaTrobe University, 2018

Testament: Robert Salzer Foundation Acquisitions
5 November 2018 – 3 March 2019

The Ararat Gallery collection’s renewal has been significantly supported by the Robert Salzer Foundation. The exhibition presents a decade of acquisitions that reveal the dynamic uptake of textiles in Australia’s contemporary art practise. Building on the gallery’s comprehensive collection of post-minimalist and craft-based textile fibre art from the 1970s and 1980s, these recent acquisitions showcase new and unexpected approaches to the use of textiles as part of a challenging of the hierarchy of materials by contemporary artists.

fifty: Celebrating 50 years of collecting textile art

Established in 1968, Ararat Gallery TAMA has a special place amongst Australia’s public galleries through its commitment to supporting and promoting contemporary practices in textile and fibre art. Today the collection is arguably the most significant of its kind in Australia. This exhibition celebrates the Gallery’s 50th birthday by presenting a selection of the collection’s best-loved works alongside some of its rarely-seen gems.

 
HOURS: Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, Weekends 10am to 4pm, Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day