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Saturday, January 5, 2019

New hang at the Art Gallery of Ballarat


As 2018 was drawing to a close, curator Julie McLaren and her crack team undertook the mammoth task of rehanging the staircase area overlooking the foyer of the Art Gallery of Ballarat. I'm a long-time advocate of the salon-style hang, both for aesthetic and practical reasons (Shane Jones and I employ it extensively in our Melbourne and Ballarat homes and studios), and find the finished result, highlighted in this post, quite stunning.

The installation focuses entirely on figurative works. I'm honoured to have my painting Vorticist 2 (pictured above, top row, fourth from right) included, particularly as it is surrounded by so many works from the collection that I hugely admire. Among them is former From the Bower colleague Loris Button's poignant self-portrait The artist in her middle years: Memento 1, 1995 (pictured above, third row from top, second left).

Vorticist 2 was first exhibited in the solo show Tease (2004) at Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne. In 2008 it was part of the touring survey show Deborah Klein: Out of the Past 1995 - 2007 and the work is featured in the standard school text book Art Detective by Michelle Stockley (2017).

When Vorticist 2 was acquired back in 2005, I never dreamed that one day I would be living in Ballarat and, as Shane and I tentatively start the slow, complex process of cutting ties with Melbourne, that we’d come to regard it as home.

Vorticist 2, 2004, oil and acrylic on linen, 122 x 91 cm. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat.

This group hang extends an invitation to engage with the works, both singly and collectively, something not all salon-style arrangements successfully achieve. It's virtually impossible to do the new installation justice here, or to more than suggest the myriad of connections and dialogues between works that it instigates.

The staircase area is directly opposite the main entrance to the Art Gallery of Ballarat, providing a tantalising indication of what is in store. On several occasions I've spoken to past visitors who admit they've never climbed the staircase to the second level, which is where some of the finest works in the collection, as well as some terrific curated shows, are displayed. I've no doubt that this striking new hang will lead all but the chronically uncurious irresistibly upwards and onwards.

To read a short essay on the history of the salon-style hang, visit the Polk Museum of Art HERE.

Admiring the new hang at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Photo credit: Shane Jones

View from the top of the stairs (left)

View from the top of the stairs (right)

A list of the above works, section by section, follows directly. Click on individual pages for a clearer view.





Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Everything's coming up roses

Pictured above: the view of (and from) my drawing board on this second day of 2019

I'm not usually one for omens, but on the last day of the old year, our little rose bush, which in recent years has had numerous near-death experiences, began to flower for the very first time. The rose was a gift from Carole Wilson (one of my fellow artists in the 2018 show PATTERNS OF COLLECTING: From the Bower at the Johnston Collection and its two previous iterations in 2017). By New Year's Day the rose was in full, glorious bloom. If that's not a propitious omen for the year ahead, I don't know what is. At least, that's what I choose to believe.

In another omen of sorts, the colours of its petals are uncannily like those in my current painting-in-progress (pictured above), particularly in - dare I say it - my subject's rosy cheek. 

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope that 2019 will be a rosy year for all of us.

Our rose opens its petals on New Year's Eve

The rose in full bloom on New Year's Day