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Past Exhibitions and Events

SAM Local Spotlight: Madeline Wright
Friday 13 March 2020 - Sunday 21 June 2020

The five exhibitions that make up the 2020 SAM Local exhibition are full of exciting and diverse artists and creatives that will surprise and delight visitors.

SAM Local Spotlight is an opportunity for an artist with local connections to hold a solo exhibition at SAM.

Madeline Wright’s solo exhibition of object based works in metal, ceramic and glass, is based on her upbringing near the Goulburn River in Arcadia. Inspired by the objects and colours of this landscape, A Field Guide to Utopia encourages the viewer to slow down and observe nuances in our surroundings.

Image: Madeline Wright in her studio. Photo by Lara Merrington.

SAM eduLAB: Nadia Hernández
Friday 13 March 2020 - Sunday 21 June 2020

SAM's Education Lab provides a diverse range of students and educators with the opportunity to work directly with an artist and create an immersive installation within SAM's exhibition space. The SAM eduLAB artist for 2020 is Nadia Hernández.

Unfortunately our community interactions in the museum were impacted by COVID-19 restrictrions, however we are delighted to present this series of virtual workshops hosted by Nadia to encourage kids to explore their creativity and find inspiration in her work.

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Hernández is an emerging artist originally from Merida, Venezuela and currently based between Melbourne and Sydney. Her art is informed specifically by the current political climate of her home country and her experience as a migrant woman living abroad. Articulated through textiles, paper constructions, painting, music, installations, sculptures and murals, her work negotiates complex political narratives through the personal, the institutional and their intersections. 

Nadia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Queensland University of Technology, has partaken in both solo and group exhibitions across Australia, and was selected as the official artist for City of Sydney's NYE 2017. More recently, she was awarded The Churchie's National Emerging Art Prize at the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane. 

The 2020 SAM eduLAB is once again supported by La Trobe University Shepparton. 

Image: Nadia Hernández, Nosotros Somos, 2019, paper cut, 71 x 90cm, framed. Courtesy of artist.


SAM Local: Best of Friends
Friday 13 March 2020 - Sunday 21 June 2020

Best of Friends is an open access exhibition and it's purpose is to open a window onto the creative practice of many artists working in a range of media in the Goulburn Valley. It is a great way to see what other people are creating and to gain insights into the regional arts sector.

A wonderful opening night was held on 12 March. You can view the Facebook Album here.

Support our local artist by purchasing works available for sale. View the artwork listings and details CLICK HERE. 


Showcase #25: Sandra Bowkett
Friday 7 February 2020 - Sunday 3 May 2020

Showcase #25: Sandra Bowkett, Clay // Fire is a collection of ceramic vessels that explore and make visible the energy of wood-firing on earth materials.

⁠ ⁠ Interestingly, these Showcase pieces were fired at Sandra's home studio in Tallarook, in a wood-fired kiln she built herself in 2013. ⁠ ⁠

Many of you will know Sandra's name as her work has been for sale in the SAM shop for many years. The SAM Showcase allows her to experiment further with presentation in a gallery setting. The installation includes elements from the firing process, including bricks and kiln inserts, and gives you a great insight into the creation of these beautiful vessels.⁠ ⁠Collectors of Bowkett’s work will be excited to learn the pieces in the SAM Showcase are also available to purchase. ⁠

Image: Sandra Bowkett in her studio. Photo: Lara Merrington. 

Saturday 7 December 2019 - Sunday 1 March 2020

This summer SAM presents Collector/Collected, a maximalist exhibition exploring the art of collecting.

Collector/Collected is an exhibition in three parts. It showcases two major collections of Australian studio pottery from the 1960s and 70s: The Studio Pottery from the John Nixon Collection and SAM’s own collection from this period. SAM presents these two significant collections alongside the work of four contemporary artists, Tony Albert, Kate Daw, Geoff Newton and David Sequeira, each of whom explore ideas of collecting and collections.

Nixon’s collection features works by 29 artists living and working in and around the eastern suburbs of Melbourne throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Among the artists featured are those associated with the well-known Potter’s Cottage in Warrandyte, including Sylvia and Artur (Artek) Halpern, Charles Wilton, Gus and Betty McLaren, Phyl Dunn and Reg Preston, Fritz and Kate Janeba and Elsa Ardern.

“Looking at this incredible collection of hand-made pottery: wrenched, moulded and fired from clay sourced from local earth around the suburbs and backyards of Melbourne – the beating heart of creativity itself can almost be grasped. This exhibition is testament to how passion, knowledge and dedication can transform the everyday act of collecting into cultural treasure,” explains Deakin University Curator, James Lynch.

Nixon’s collection will be joined by pieces by the same artists from SAM’s own collection, totalling close to 350 works in the most comprehensive presentation of their work to date, and captures a particular moment in Australian history.   

“In part, the value of collections is how they enable us to reconsider and rethink history through our own contemporary lens and times,” says Director of SAM, Dr Rebecca Coates.

“Each artist’s project in Collector/Collected reveals an aspect of the motivations for collecting - from obsession, compulsion, means of discovery and exploration, to just plain delight of the aesthetic object. Collector/Collected continues our examination of the relationship between art, design and architecture through collections including ceramics, for which SAM has become known”, says Ms Coates. 

Modernist art, architecture and design emerged in Australia, reflecting post-war aspirations in domestic ware and functional items. Cooperatives and studios such as Potters Cottage and Cottles Bridge were formed by artists and craftspeople to meet the growing public demand for the hand-made but affordable – an integral part of the aspiration for a modern lifestyle of new housing and local manufacture.

Ceramics and the hand-made were part of this trend, and the houses of Warrandyte, Eltham and Hurstbridge of this period often featured modernist design elements such as mud-brick architecture, Scandinavian furniture, sea-grass matting and Australian native gardens. Many of these features are again having their moment in the sun, alongside our continued contemporary obsession and love of all things ceramic. 

The works were sold in department stores, such as Georges, David Jones and Myers in Melbourne, as well as the well-known Little Collins Street store, Primrose Pottery Shop. A vital commercial outlet for a group of emerging and established artists, potters and designers in post-war Melbourne, including studio potters Allan Lowe, Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Neil Douglas, with proprietors Edith and Betty MacMillan working closely with suppliers, and commissioning and taking works on consignment.

In and around the two ceramics collections are four projects by leading contemporary artists Tony Albert, Kate Daw, Geoff Newton, and David Sequeira.

Tony Albert’s CLASH (2019) continues the artist’s ongoing series of installations which use text and appropriated imagery to examine the historical representation of Aboriginal people and culture. As with other works in this series, CLASH draws on Albert’s own extensive, personal collection of largely mid-twentieth century ‘Aboriginalia’, a term used by Albert to describe kitsch domestic objects and tourist artefacts that feature naïve ‘caricaturing’ of Aboriginality. The title CLASH points to an underlying friction, a clash of experiences and cultures.

Kate Daw presents a new installation conceived especially for SAM, reflecting on feminine experience, language and modernist design. Daw’s motifs draw on domestic interiors, decoration and design; floral wallpaper, paintings of fabric patterning, perfume packaging and book covers, and text describing a domestic scene from a John le Carre novel, each letter formed by hand in clay. In Art, Work, Life (Carlton Ware) (2009), Daw has created a collection of white ceramic cups and saucers – replicas of tableware by the Stoke-on-Trent pottery manufacturer, stripped of their distinctive colours and decoration.

Paintings from Geoff Newton’s The Victorian Scene (2015) feature the streetscapes immediately visible from the entrance of regional art galleries and museums across Victoria. Collector/Collected presents 11 paintings from this series, showing the vistas outside the following galleries; Ballarat, Bendigo, Benalla, Castlemaine, Geelong, Mildura, Mornington, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Wagga Wagga and Warrnambool. Newton captured the day-to-day detail of the scenes  – furniture, handrails, benches, carparks – using his camera, which he then outsourced to be painted and reinterpreted by artists at a manufacturing company in China. The scenes prompt broader reflection on the role and history of these buildings, each with their own stories, collectors and collections, while the paintings’ production also inherently raise the intersecting issues of authorship, reproduction, commodification, and the system of collecting and valuation.

For David Sequeira, colour is a catalyst for his collecting. Sequeira started incorporating monochromatic vessels in his work in the mid-1990s, sourcing them from second-hand stores and op shops. Dating predominantly from the 1960s onwards, Sequeira’s collection of coloured vases – often considered kitsch and discarded by their owners – introduces another aspect of modern design. Gathered together, the experience of the individual vessels is transformed, from an object that is self-contained with its own chain of connection to its original context and use, to one that exists as part of a larger composition based on the study of colour and form.

Studio Pottery from the John Nixon Collection was conceived and presented at Deakin University by curator James Lynch in 2018.

Image: Installation view, Studio Pottery from the John Nixon Collection, Deakin University Art Gallery 2018. Photo by Simon Peter Fox. 

Showcase #24: Regeneration
Friday 8 November 2019 - Wednesday 5 February 2020

SAM is delighted to partner with Craft Victoria in presenting its latest Showcase exhibition, created by Adelaide based ceramic artist Kerryn Levy.

Showcase #24: Regeneration, is inspired by Levy’s recent trip to Central Australia where she took particular interest in the regeneration of certain plant species following a controlled burn-off in the bush, and the striking colours that occurred as a result.

Using a variety of hand-building techniques Levy makes sculptural vessels reminiscent of human, animal and botanical bodies. When paired or grouped, these forms nestle and dance with one another. Their surfaces reflect the colours and textures of the Australian landscape.

For this new body of work, Levy has taken the opportunity to explore larger, more complex forms, constructing pairs of entwined figures that twist, turn and grow through and around each other. Scattered amongst these larger forms, smaller, brightly coloured pieces represent new growth, and show Levy’s ability to create and explore with a range of new glazes and textures.

After studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of South Australia (2014) and completing the Associate Program at JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design (2018), Kerryn Levy continues to practice from her JamFactory studio in Adelaide. In 2018 Levy attended the Shiro Oni residency in Onishi, Japan, and earlier this year participated in The Ghan artist in residence Darwin-Adelaide, which was influential in the creation of work for Regeneration.

Artworks from Regeneration are available for purchase at the SAM shop.

The Craft x SAM Showcase is a curated program of exhibitions in partnership with Craft Victoria and Shepparton Art Museum.

Image: Kerryn Levy, Vessels with Kintsugi Detail. 

Drawing Wall #37 - Emily Ferretti
Friday 1 November 2019 - Wednesday 25 March 2020

Melbourne based painter Emily Ferretti will be the 37th artist to take on SAM’s drawing wall - an ongoing series of commissioned, temporary wall-based drawings enlivening the foyer space of Riverlinks Eastbank.

On my way’ will be a painting that describes travelling through landscape. There is a repetitive nature to the work that mimics the feeling of moving past the environment at speed. Tree trunks feel like they bend as you move past them rhythmically like a beat of a drum.

“When thinking about the rural nature of Shepparton I kept on thinking about my time growing up in the country and the freedom I felt once I could drive. I wanted to make an image that represents that freedom but also captures my observations of the landscape when moving past it,” explains Ferretti.

Using acrylic paints, Ferretti will create a piece using rollers, brushes, and mops which have been altered, to create texture and marks that enhance the feeling of this movement.

A Melbourne based painter, Ferretti grew up in country Victoria and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2006.

Dedicated to a full-time studio practice over the past fifteen years, her works often depict rural, landscape and domestic scenes. Ferretti has exhibited widely and undertaken studio residences including Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, Cite de Arts International, Paris, and Green Street, New York. Emily Ferretti is represented by Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne.

Image: Emily Ferretti, photo by Amina Barolli.

Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul
Saturday 14 September 2019 - Sunday 24 November 2019

Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul is a Bundanon Trust touring exhibition that features 40 paintings and 20 works on paper, including a group of masterpieces borrowed from major state art museums, as well as letters, photographs and sketchbooks spanning almost half a century and featuring works from Boyd’s adolescence through to his final years.

The three-year national touring exhibition curated by Barry Pearce, Emeritus Curator of Australian Art AGNSW, explores Arthur Boyd’s lifetime of landscape paintings.

Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul offers the first in depth look at the artist’s powerful early grasp of the landscape as a subject. Bookended by Boyd’s youthful paintings of the Mornington Peninsula in the 1930s and the final phase of his career depicting the Shoalhaven area in southern New South Wales in the mid-1970s, Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul considers not only the topographic landscape, but also the landscape Boyd carried within himself.

As a friend of Boyd, guest curator Barry Pearce brings a unique insight to his curatorial role, allowing this exhibition to move beyond the traditional academic understanding of Boyd’s career and delve deeper into the rich personal landscape of the acclaimed Australian artist.

Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul is supported by the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.

Being presented alongside this exhibition is the SAM curated The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery

The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery showcases many of the over 140 ceramic works by the extended Boyd family from SAM's own Collection.

Celebrating decoration, the domestic and the every-day, these works reveal the way in which art and design intersected for the Boyd family and the influences and inspirations that crossed art, architecture, literature and life.

For more information on The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery, please click here

Image: Arthur Boyd, Peter's fish and crucifixion, c1993, oil on canvas, Bundanon Trust Collection.

The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery
Saturday 14 September 2019 - Sunday 1 March 2020

The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery is a SAM curated exhibition showcasing many of the over 140 ceramic works by the extended Boyd family from SAM's own Collection.

Celebrating decoration, the domestic and the every-day, these works reveal the way in which art and design intersected for the Boyd family and the influences and inspirations that crossed art, architecture, literature and life. 

The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery features works by William Merric Boyd (1888-1959) and Doris Boyd (1889-1960), Arthur Boyd’s parents; Lucy Boyd (1916-2009) and husband Hatton Beck (1901-1994); Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) and Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery which included collaborations between Boyd, Neil Douglas (1911-2003) and John Perceval (1923-2000); Guy Boyd (1923-1988) and Martin Boyd Pottery; David Boyd (1924-2011) and wife Hermia Jones (1931-2000); Mary Boyd (1926-2016) and husband John Perceval (1923-2000).

This show will be presented alongside Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul, a Bundanon Trust touring exhibition, providing a unique insight into the Boyd national legacy.

Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul features 40 paintings and 20 works on paper, including a group of masterpieces borrowed from major state art museums, as well as letters, photographs and sketchbooks spanning almost half a century and featuring works from Boyd’s adolescence through to his final years.

The three-year national touring exhibition curated by Barry Pearce, Emeritus Curator of Australian Art AGNSW, explores Arthur Boyd’s lifetime of landscape paintings.

For further information on Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul, please click here

Photo: Stephanie Bradford. 

Showcase #23: Way to your heart
Wednesday 14 August 2019 - Wednesday 6 November 2019

SAM is delighted to partner with Craft Victoria to present Melbourne based ceramicist Zhu Ohmu in Showcase #23, which will feature a completely new body of work.

Ohmu's coiled pieces investigate the resurgence of the handmade and the ethics of slowness in an age of mass producation.

The initial concept for Zhu Ohmu's coiled vessels was a response to the rise in popularity of 3D printed ceramics. Corresponding to biomimicry - the imitation of systems of nature - the artist wanted to explore how forms would emerge if she used her hands to mimic the way a 3D printer operates through extrusion.

Ohmu's vessels are built through stacking, folding, pressing and pulling; these actions are often dictated by the weight of moist clay. Forms emerge intuitively and seem to ebb and flow, often pushed to their structural limits.

Zhu Ohmu's exhibition pieces are available for sale at the SAM shop, or why not immerse yourself in art-making? Ohmu is leading a public workshop where participants can create thier own Amoebic Planter using hand-building techniques. Or drop the kids with SAM on Saturday morning, where they will enjoy a unique rice paper cutting workshop lead by Ohmu.

Further details and booking information for both workshops are available on our Programs & Events page.

The Craft x SAM Showcase is a curated program of exhibitions in partnership with Craft Victoria and Shepparton Art Museum.

Image: Zhu Ohmu with form. Courtesy of the artist.

Drawing Wall #36 - Carla McRae
Friday 2 August 2019 - Wednesday 23 October 2019

Artist Carla McRae’s Drawing Wall 'Resting, rising 2019' is painted in acrylics and draws from some key pieces in A Finer Grain: Selected Works from the SAM Collection exhibition currently on display at SAM.

The 4 x 12 metre painting centres around a rendition of Ethel Spowers’ ‘Resting Models’ linocut print. A strong Australian woman artist and passionate modernist, Spowers was prolific throughout the 20’s and 30’s.

Artist McRae reflects “the women in this piece rest affirmed and at ease in each other’s company. Key pieces from the collection, refined and rendered down to simplified geometric forms and bold colours, drift and rise behind the women. Margaret Preston’s magnolias bloom, alongside forms derived from the ceramics of Penny Smith, Fiona Murphy, Susan Laurent, Angela Valamanesh, Kirsten Coelho and Khai Lieu.”

“They form a world of strength and companionship for these women; soft and sharp, light and dark, deep and uplifting. This piece speaks to a sisterhood and is a celebration of the contrasting, complex and powerful spirit of these artists and their artworks -- a force growing stronger, together,” said McRae. SAM Director Rebecca Coates said that this new Drawing Wall commission compliments the new collection show, A Finer Grain: selected works from the SAM collection, and continues to develop a connection between visitors of SAM and the performing arts centre.

McRae is a Melbourne-based artist and illustrator with a distinct modern graphical style of art. Her drawings pull together a blank space with clean lines, geometric shapes and strong colour. Always working to create clear, simplistic and honest images, McRae’s work depicts open narratives inspired by the beauty of everyday moments, small gestures and simple pleasures.

After graduating from the Graphic Design and Communication program at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, McRae’s unfurling illustration practice drove her to Melbourne, where she has been working and exhibiting ever since. From editorial, publishing, branding and apparel to sock design, large-scale mural projects and teaching programs, McRae has worked and collaborated with notable local and international clients around the world.

Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award 2019
Friday 21 June 2019 - Sunday 1 September 2019

The SMFACA is one of the most prestigious awards in the visual arts in Australia, with a uniquely ceramic focus. The award will be announced on Friday 21 June, and the exhibition will run until September.

Click here for more information about the award and this year's shortlisted artists.