These are the stories that stay with you

Life-affirming and transformative, the exhibitions supported by NETS Victoria’s touring program are having a powerful effect on viewers.
NETS. Image is a display of First Nations artworks and artefacts in a black walled gallery.

There is no greater place in the world to explore the breadth and depth of human experience than in an art gallery. A visionary force in contemporary Australian visual arts culture, NETS Victoria ensures that some of this country’s most important exhibitions are accessible across Australia.

David Sequeira, Chair of NETS Victoria’s Artistic Program Advisory Committee, is a member of a very passionate and proactive Board that instils ‘the conceptual ambitions that underpin the exhibitions,’ he says.

As a service organisation dedicated to ‘inclusivity and honouring the multiplicity of Australia’s cultural fabric and arts practice, NETS Victoria increases sector connectivity by creating opportunities for skills sharing, and creative and professional development’, explains Sequeira.

Through the NETS Victoria Exhibition Development Fund (EDF), ‘We provide comprehensive curatorial, financial and capacity building support to develop shows from the ground up’, he adds. Most of the NETS Victoria 2024 touring program exhibitions received seed funding from the EDF, which is distributed biennially.

Among the contemporary arts community, there is palpable enthusiasm for NETS Victoria’s 2024 touring program. Touring to remote and metropolitan communities throughout Australia, the program responds to audience feedback that hungers for truth-telling, and more insight into Indigenous knowledges and values.

The program comprises five exhilarating exhibitions, including two new First Nations-led shows: Between Waves, an Australian Centre for Contemporary Art exhibition curated by Jessica Clark, and ngaratya (together, us group, all in it together), a Bunjil Place Gallery exhibition, curated by Nici Cumpston and Zena Cumpston.

These two shows join three critically acclaimed projects that are already on the road: Conflated curated by Zoë Bastin and Claire Watson; Collective Movements: First Nations Collectives, Collaborations and Creative Practices from across Victoria, a Monash University Museum of Art exhibition curated by Kate ten Buuren, Maya Hodge and N’Arweet Professor Carolyn Briggs AM PhD, with support from Bundjalung, Muruwari and Kamilaroi artist and senior academic, Professor Brian Martin; and One foot on the ground, one foot in the water, a Latrobe Art Institute exhibition curated by Travis Curtin.

A testament to the powerful effect of One foot on the ground, one foot in the water, Sequeira says he has visited the show at three different venues. The show invites ‘thought-provoking contemplation about human attachment, and alternatives for how people relate to and respond to death – and the context that death exists beyond sadness’, he says.

‘The individual works are sensational,’ adds Sequeira and, as a body of work, the responsive thematic curation is absolutely compelling.

‘Sometimes when stories are challenging, that’s their beauty,’ says Sequeira. One foot on the ground, one foot in the water is an exemplar of how art can ‘interrupt a standard narrative or understanding and can reveal a facet of somebody’s life that could otherwise lay dormant’.

‘It’s the conversations that those works generate together that is particularly moving for me, because they touch on a subject that people don’t like to talk about. They embrace the notion of death from the perspective of regeneration,’ says Sequeira. 

It is the very act of generating conversations that underpins the NETS Victoria 2024 touring program. Taking such compelling exhibitions to a range of regional galleries allows the organisation to share fresh ideas with local communities and bring new audiences to the arts.

Each of the five exhibitions highlight NETS Victoria’s drive to ensure that its contemporary art programs resonate universally – while honouring personal stories – amplifying diverse voices that ground us in humanity. In the safe, cloistered sweetness of gallery time and space, we are privy to beautiful minds and the remarkable hearts of powerful communities. Life-affirming and transformative, these are the stories that stay with you.

NETS Victoria: Upcoming Schedule

Bathurst Regional Art Gallery NSW: 15 December 2023 – 11 February 2024

Between Waves
Plimsoll Gallery Tas: 8 March – 4 May 2024

Collective Movements
Mildura Arts Centre Vic: 9 March – 28 April 2024

One foot on the ground, one foot in the water
Caboolture Regional Art Gallery Qld: 9 March – 1 June 2024

ngaratya (together, us group, all in it together)
Broken Hill City Art Gallery NSW: 3 May – 28 July 2024 

Monique Grbec is a writer, critic and text-based multidisciplinary artist. They have written for BBC Australia, Westerly, Blak & Bright, IndigenousX, Koorie Heritage Trust, The Saturday Paper, Witness Performance, Yirramboi Festival and Kill Your Darlings. They are currently working on ‘The Wall Remix’, a First Nations reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s 1979 rock opera ‘The Wall’. Monique is a child of the Stolen Generations and a producer at Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival.