ICYMI: The week's top news in the arts

Staff writer

Sotheby's sold to French billionaire, new home for Nolans, Civilization hits Melbourne, opportunities for artists and more.
ICYMI: The week's top news in the arts

Civilization: The Way We Live Now at the NGV features 100 contemporary photographers from around the world. Image by Sheng-Wen Lo from the series White Bear (2016).

Around the Galleries

New home for The Nolan Collection

A new dedicated gallery for The Nolan Collection was launched by ACT Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events, Gordon Ramsay at Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG). The gallery provides a welcoming new space for the display of Sidney Nolan’s important gift of major works to the people of Australia dating from the most critical period of his artistic life from 1945 to 1953.


Drawing from original letters and documents, visitors will be able to follow Nolan’s personal and creative journey during the making of the Ned Kelly series in 1945. But it is not all about the Ned Kelly series. Nolan personally included two iconic St Kilda paintings reflecting memories of his childhood in the waterfront park and fun fair and a group of five works from his travels in the dry desert landscapes of Queensland and the outback of Australia from 1947 through to 1953.

CMAG also presents a – new acquisition of a work by Sidney Nolan for the collection, Rite of Spring, a design for Nolan’s commission for The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in 1962. Nolan had an active artistic interest in the performing arts throughout his career.

Civilization: The Way We Live Now

Civilization: The Way We Live Now is an international photography exhibition featuring over 200 original photographs by over 100 contemporary photographers from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.

Presented in collaboration with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York/Paris/Lausanne and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, the exhibition explores photographic representations of life in cities and journeys through the shared experiences of life in the urban environment.

Tony Ellwood, Director, National Gallery of Victoria said, ‘Civilization: The Way We Live Now is a rich and varied portrait of our times. The exceptional quality of the work included is testament to the talent and vibrancy present in contemporary photography today.’

A major publication has been published by Thames & Hudson in parallel with the exhibition. Civilization: The Way We Live Now is on display from 13 September 2019 to 2 February 2020 at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square. Tickets available from NGV Melbourne

Exploded textiles pushes the boundaries of fabric

The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) and Tamworth Regional Gallery last week announced Exploded textiles, a new exhibition of leading international and Australian artists drawn from the collections of both galleries.

Presenting an evolution of the understanding of textile art, the exhibition celebrates Tamworth Regional Gallery’s famous focus on textiles and coincides with its centenary.

Home of the Tamworth Textile Triennial, this year the city also hosts Artstate 2019, the four-year forum by Regional Arts NSW highlighting excellence in regional arts practice. Exploded textiles forms the centrepiece of the forum’s diverse arts program.

AGNSW deputy director and director of collections Maud Page said the exhibition is an inspiring opportunity to further the Gallery’s engagement with regional New South Wales.

Exploded textiles will be showing at Tamworth Regional Gallery from 28 September 2019 – 1 December 2019.

National Portrait Gallery re-opens with The Look

Re-opening after building works, the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) will re-launch on 14 September with The Look, an exhibition of 68 photographs of contemporary Australians including Nick Cave, Marcia Langton, Ruby Hunter and Heath Ledger. 

'The Look’s portraits have been chosen to highlight the diversity of the Australian experience and achievement, of course, but also a more arresting, if intangible quality. It is a bearing, a manner, a presence; something we perceive and are drawn to; something that transcends the aesthetic conventions of beauty and style,' said National Portrait Gallery Director, Karen Quinlan. 

The Look runs 14 September 2019 – 9 February 2020 and will be followed by a national tour. 

What’s happening at festivals

Darebin Music Feast returns

Taking place over 8 days from 20 – 27 October, the 23rd annual Darebin Music Feast will encompass 85 events across 20 different venues, showcasing a swathe of artists and musicians who reflect the rich and culturally diverse community of Darebin.

‘I’m so thrilled with what’s on offer in 2019,’ says Mayor Rennie. ‘This year’s program is bold, rich and enticing, and continues the focus on diversity, collaboration and celebration that Darebin Music Feast has become known for.’

Underpinning this year’s program is a commitment to welcoming and celebrating music makers and lovers of all ages. More than half of the events in the 2019 program are free to attend and nearly a third are open to people of all ages, including the major opening and closing events.

The Feast will kick off on 20 October with a massive outdoor Opening Party, featuring 15 acts across three stages. Mirroring last year’s hugely successful Closing Party, it’ll be all ages, all day and free entry, with a stellar line-up including Alice Skye, Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, Huntly, Jess Ribeiro, Kee’ahn, Raw Humps, Rebel Yell, The Goon Sax, Tiana Khasi, U-Bahn and more.

The annual Darebin Music Feast Songwriters’ Award Grand Final returns to Northcote Town Hall on 24 October. One of ten local finalists will take home a prize package of $2000 cash, studio time and more.

Head to the Darebin Music Feast website for the full lineup and event details.

HOBIENNALE announces dates

HOBIENNALE announced its 2019 festival dates and a nation-wide list of independent arts organisations travelling to Hobart to be a part of the unique biennial event. It will take place throughout Hobart and surrounds from 15 – 23 November 2019.

The festival will see 21 artist-led organisations and cooperatives from around Australia and New Zealand come together to present the work of around 100 early-career artists alongside an extensive music program, performances, artists’ talks and food events. The entire festival is free.

The festival is the only one of its kind in Australia, uniting a diverse range of arts organisations and artists who will work together to present exhibitions and performances in Hobart’s gallery spaces, historic sites and disused properties.

The full festival program will be announced on Friday 27 September.

Founder and Artistic Director Michelle Leonard OAM has worked with some of Australia's most innovative composers to reimagine one of the most iconic of choral works – Messiah – to place it firmly into our modern world.

Third Sydney Craft Week

Sydney Craft Week festival returns for its third year, celebrating all things handmade across Greater Sydney for 10 days in October.

This year it includes more than 150 events, with 37 exhibitions, six talks, 57 workshops, 13 markets and retail events, 30 open studios and 13 live demonstrations. This community-led program is the only festival in Sydney dedicated to making by hand.

‘We are excited to present a jam packed showcase of making that is inspiring, innovative and most importantly playful,’ said Festival Directors Lisa Cahill and Penny Craswell.

Sydney Craft Week unites the very active craft sector within Sydney's creative community ­ including ceramicists, jewellers, quilters, knitters and other textile artists, plus timber workers, print makers, leather crafters, Indigenous makers and creatives of all kinds who work with their hands.

On Stage

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra announces 2020 Season

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra this week announced its 2020 Season, which includes 102 concerts and features international conductors, and soloists from around the world. A total of 33 Australian artists and 85 South Australian artists feature throughout the season.

ASO Managing Director Vincent Ciccarello said that the Master Series, Classics Unwrapped, and Mozart at Elder will return with a series of special events and another Showcase Series that will introduce new audiences to the orchestra for the first time.

2020 Season Highlights include Celebrating Beethoven at 250, with Mark Wigglesworth and the ASO perform all nine symphonies in four concerts over 10 days; Nicholas Carter conducting Mahler’s Symphony No 5 in the Adelaide Festival and She Speaks, a mini festival dedicated exclusively to the music of women composers, including the World Premiere of a suite from Innocence by Adelaide composer Anne Cawrse.

To find out more, you can download the program at the ASO site. 

21 new Australian works for a 21st birthday

To celebrate their 21st year, Founder and Artistic Director of the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus, Michelle Leonard OAM, has worked with some of Australia's most innovative composers to reimagine one of the most iconic of choral works, Handel’s Messiah.

Messiah Reimagined, written for double choir (adults, children and some special guests!) chamber orchestra and spoken word, it showcases new music by a plethora of Australian composers. The result is a testament to creativity and the power of music to connect and reflect our deepest concerns and joys.

The concert will be performed at 7pm on 11 October at City Recital Hall. For more details, visit the Espresso website.

Bell and Tedeschi jazz together

Theatre icon and National Living Treasure, John Bell AO OBE and internationally acclaimed pianist, Simon Tedeschi together at The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in their third thrilling collaboration.

Bell is one of Australian theatre’s best known actors and directors, and founder of Bell Shakespeare. Tedeschi is one of the most acclaimed and sought-after pianists in Australia, known equally for his performances of Schumann, Grieg and Mussorgsky as his Gershwin and jazz collaborations.

Held together by Scott Fitzgerald’s famous essay Echoes of the Jazz Age, the program includes snippets of TS Eliot, Groucho Marx, Mae West, W.C Fields and Dorothy Parker along with the music of George Gershwin, Fats Waller, and Jelly Roll Morton. For more details, visit the Joan's website

News and opportunities

Abdul Abdullah's prize winning work You can call me troublesome; image courtesy of the Islamic Museum of Australia and the artist.

Abdul Abdullah wins Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize

An Archibald Prize (2011) finalist, Abdul Abdullah this week won the inaugural $15,000 Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize 2019 with his work, You can call me troublesome.

Australian Muslim Artists is an annual exhibition hosted by the Islamic Museum of Australia, and 2019 marks the first occasion the Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize - supported by La Trobe University - has been offered.

Abdullah said it was an honour to be selected for the award. ‘It’s really hard to describe how much I appreciate this recognition,’ he said. ’I am looking forward to visiting the work in the exhibition and really look forward to seeing all the other finalists.’

The 13 shortlisted works will be on display as part of the exhibition alongside five works shortlisted works in the Future Australian Muslim Artists category, open to students in Years 10-12, which was won by 15-year old Hashim Mohamed, a student from Australian International Academy.

The Australian Muslim Artists exhibition is on display at the Islamic Museum of Australia from 13 September- 8 November 2019 in Thornbury, Melbourne. 

John Fries Award open

The John Fries Award is an annual $10,000 non-acquisitive art prize recognising the talents of early career visual artists.

Since it began in 2010, the award has established itself as a platform for some of the most engaging and experimental works from the next wave of contemporary artists from across Australia and New Zealand.

The prize was established by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation. Viscopy merged with Copyright Agency on 30 November 2017 after a successful five year partnership agreement and are now known only as Copyright Agency.

For entry form and guidelines, go to the award's website.

Submissions open for Sculpture at Scenic World 2020

The ninth annual Sculpture at Scenic World exhibition is now welcoming submissions from creatives for their annual event scheduled to run 9 April–10 May 2020.Offering a total prize pool if $30,000, the artworks will presented along a 2.4km boardwalk at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains. 

Awards include the $5,000 Environment Award, $3,000 Artist Peer Award, $2,000 Scenic World Staff Choice Award, and the $1,000 Carrington Hotel People’s Choice Prize. All shortlisted artists will also receive a $1,000 artist fee for exhibiting and installation support.

Curator and Exhibition Manager, Justin Morrissey, said 'We have power running along the boardwalk which enables artists interested in sound, light, video and projection to experiment in the stunning natural environment of the Blue Mountains.'

Full details of submitting to Sculpture at Scenic World are now on their website.

Calling Caribbean curators

The Caribbean Art Initiative, a Swiss-based non-profit organisation with a mission to promote international awareness and appreciation for Caribbean art and artists, is hosting an open call for curators from the Caribbean region to help conceptualise and curate a group exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, to showcase the work of artists of the wider Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora.

The exhibition’s aim is to provide an encompassing view of noteworthy art made in and about the Caribbean today, in particular by regionally-based artists who are addressing critical issues relevant to the contemporary international art world, and who have thus far been underrepresented in international art exhibitions and dialogues.

Comprised of new, loaned, and site-specific works and projects – conceived in an inclusive range of media including, but not limited to, painting, photography. sculpture, installations, video, digital projects, performance, etc. – the exhibition will be an opportunity to engage with the work of artists of the Caribbean and situate their practice in a historical framework around a compelling, accessible, and timely theme.

Curators living in the Caribbean region or born there, with a track-record of writing and curating Caribbean art, are invited to submit an application, in a single PDF file, to office@caribbean.art by September 27, 2019. 

Sotheby’s sold to French billionaire

Shareholders last week approved the $3.7 billion sale of the venerable fine art auction house to French media mogul Patrick Drahi. CEO Tad Smith called it a historic moment for the 275-year-old auction house.

The auction house’s shareholders officially approved the acquisition by French-Israeli telecom magnate Patrick Drahi’s company BidFair at a stockholder meeting in New York.

News of the proposed deal was first announced in mid-June. The auction house had been hit with four lawsuits brought by shareholders attempting to stop the deal but Sotheby’s said they were not expected to affect the deal.

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