Sunday, October 20, 2013

More Art of Australia - on BBC4 and iPlayer

BBC4 has a series of three programmes about The Art of Australia which are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.  Edmund Capon, the former Director and Chief Curator of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, provides an account of how Australian art has developed over time and made sense of its great beauty, its history and Australian identity. It also reflects a very diverse culture based on the people who have lived there forever and those who migrated to Australia.

Golden Summer (1889) by Arthur Streeton
National Gallery of Australia
Currently on view in 'Australia'
A lot of the art features the landscape of Australia or is based on concepts relating to land.  It includes art from the exhibition 'Australia' at the Royal Academy of Arts (21 September 2013 to 8 December 2013).  Indeed I think it no accident that the series of three programmes are being broadcast while the exhibition is on in London

The images below are currently on view in in the exhibition organised at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, organised in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia.

This is the artwork and the artists featured in Episode 1 - Strangers in a Strange Land which is about how art helped European settlers come to terms with such an unfamiliar land.

Longing Belonging’ (1997)
©  Hossein Valamanesh
Currently on view in 'Australia'
  • Longing Belonging’ (1997) Hossein Valamanesh You can currently see this work in the exhibition 'Australia' at the Royal Academy of Arts (Australia 21 September 2013 to 8 December 2013).  It was made by immigrant artist from Iran.  The carpet was a connection to his previous life in Iran. He took the carpet into the bush and then created a fire in the middle of it. 
It's about the dilemma of the migrant - about making a new life in a new country but without abandoning your past.Edward Capon
  • Inner View of Newcastle’ (1818) Joseph LycettLycett was both an artist and a con artist. He was a botanical artist convicted of forgery and transported to Australia where he started forgery all over again.  He was sent to Newcastle, then considered to be a 'hell hole'. He painted descriptive pictures for the commandment of the prison and generally displayed a settlement that could be a pleasant place to live.  He eventually returned to London and painted Views in Australia - a 'brochure' of the places that people inhabited and the landscape around.
Inner View of Newcastle(1818) by Joseph Lycett
Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales
Currently on view in 'Australia'
  • My Harvest Home’ (1835) John Glover This is an English artist who was already an accomplished landscape artist. He chose to move to Australia in 1831 after the process of colonisation. By this time homesteads had been set up in Tasmania.  His paintings were of a peaceful Arcadia - although those working on the land were convicts in a harsh penal regime.  His paintings of aboriginal people were a complete fantasy - the land had been forcibly cleared.
Two more paintings by John Glover
(left) Cawood on the Ouse River (1838)
(right) A View of the Artist's House, and Garden, Mills, Plain, Van Diemen's Land (1835)
Currently on view in 'Australia'
  • Death in Exile’ (2007) Ricky Maynard This is a photograph of a grave of the ancestors of indigenous peoples - buried in unmarked graves. The burial stone had a plaque but this had been stolen. It said To commemorate approximately 100 Aborigines buried in the vicinity of Wybalenna 1833–1847 erected by the Junior Farmers of Flinders Island.
Northeast View from the Northern Top of Mount Kosicusko’ (1863)
by Eugene von Guerard
Currently on view in 'Australia'
  • Northeast View from the Northern Top of Mount Kosicusko’ (1863) Eugene von Guerard  This is a painting of a sublime landscape by the most Romantic (Austrian) artist in the southern hemisphere.  He was representative of artists arriving from all over Europe who were recording the vast wilderness in great detail. The job of the artist was to reveal the beauties of nature.  Figures are imaginary but are dwarfed by the landscape.
  • The Buffalo Range’ (1864) Nicholas Chevalier Victoria split from New South Wales in 1851. The Buffalo Ranges was the first painting of an Australian subject added to the National Gallery of Victoria's art collection.  This is a classic example of bringing the palettes from home to the painting of Australia.
  • Black Thursday’ (1864) William Strutt An English artist educated in Paris.  This is an epic historical painting - very like European history paintings. It records an enormous fire storm in February 1851. A quarter of the state of Victoria was burned out and a million sheep perished.
Arthur 'Smike' Streeton and Tom 'Bulldog' Roberts became known as the Heidelburg School. They adopted Impressionism and made it Australian.  They rejected the methods of their teacher von Guerard as outdated and adopted the practices of Impressionist painters in France. They headed for the bush and themselves based in a farmhouse in Heidelburg just outside Melbourne. They worked in the open air.
  • Golden Summer’ (1889) Arthur Streeton (see image at top of this post) This is described by Conden as being the quintessential Australian Impressionist painting - and a welcoming painting with atmosphere. The blue and gold palette is characteristic of Streeton's paintings - and is what me made fall in love with his work.
  • 'Fire's On' (1891) Arthur Streeton This painting is about the blood, sweat and tears which go into building a new nation.  It's a narrative painting telling the story of the accidents that can happen when cutting a railway tunnel.  This is probably one of the most impressive paintings in the exhibition and the history of Australian art.
'Fire's On' (1891) Arthur Streeton
Currently on view in 'Australia'
  • The Big Picture’ (1903) Tom Roberts  This records the portraits of the great and the good at the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia.  It took 2.5 years to complete and he referred to it as his "17 foot Frakenstein".
The programme finishes with the video art of Shaun Gladwell. He describes his video work as performance landscapes. I must confess I found his video art absolutely mesmerising.  Capon describes it as being a landscape in perpetual motion.

Video art by Shaun Gladwell
Currently on view in 'Australia'
More about the artwork in Episodes 2 and 3 in upcoming posts.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article. For those who live outside UK and want to access BBC iPlayer you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.


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