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A Toast to the Angels

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is delighted to present Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s ceramic angels, opening to the public on Friday 29 August.

This historically significant exhibition brings together 38 of John Perceval’s ceramic angel sculptures for the first time since they were first exhibited in 1958 and 1959 at the Museum of Modern Art of Australia with texts by David Boyd and John Reed. Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s Ceramic Angels is a landmark exhibition for SAM and highlight of the 2014 exhibition program. The exhibition draws three works from SAM’s nationally significant ceramics collection.

SAM Director Kirsten Paisley said:
‘This exhibition celebrates SAM’s special connection with John Perceval and his delinquent angels. John Perceval’s Delinquent Angel (1961) was purchased by Shepparton Art Gallery in 1976. It later toured to Italy and China in 1995 as part of a ceramic collection exhibition, becoming the logo for the gallery from that time until our rebranding in 2012. Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s Ceramic Angels is the largest collection of the series ever brought together, and marks 40 years since they were last exhibited at Realities, Toorak in 1974. We are delighted to feature our three much-loved angels in the exhibition, representing a pivotal moment in Australian ceramics from SAM’s outstanding collection.’

The exhibition will be officially opened by Andrew Abbott, Director Arts Victoria, on Saturday 30 August at 5pm, followed by A Toast to the Angels: Gala Dinner & Wine Auction, an event presented by the Friends of SAM with support from the Victorian Wines Show, Jill and Bernard Hayes and Greater Shepparton City Council. Special guests Mirka Mora and Celia Perceval will pose a toast to the Angels with Goulburn Valley Wines. Further information on this event and making a booking can be found on SAM’s website

Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan said:
‘The exhibition opening and A Toast to the Angels: Gala Dinner and Wine Auction will connect a great moment in Australian modernism in the work of John Perceval’s ceramic Angel series to the grape growers and wine producers of the Goulburn Valley. The Victorian Wines Show is providing the best Victorian wines in show for 2013 to toast the Angels at this event and we’re delighted that the Victorian Wines Show and Goulburn Valley wine producers are collaborating to create a fantastic cultural tourism event at our charming SAM.’

Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s Ceramic Angels will be open from Friday 29 August to Sunday 23 November 2014. Entry is free. SAM is open 7 days from 10am to 4pm (public holidays 1pm to 4pm).

Background information on John Perceval and SAM’s Delinquent Angel exhibition:
John Perceval AO is one of Australia’s most celebrated and loved artists renowned for his radicalism, expressiveness and prolific output, along with his complex personal life. As a member of the Angry Penguins avant-garde movement that began in the 1940s, Perceval joined with other Australian art luminaries Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan, Danila Vassilieff and Joy Hester to rail against the insular conservatism of Australian society and push for new voices and modes of expression.

Perceval is largely known for his painting practice, however from 1957-1962, during what is considered to be one of his most creative periods, Perceval produced a series of ceramic angel sculptures as a result of his involvement with Arthur Merric-Boyd’s pottery studio at Murumbeena. Perceval’s ceramic angels are often an over-looked aspect of his oeuvre despite their technical and conceptual sophistication, humour and beguiling charm. Perceval created more than 70 ceramic angels that range from self-portraits and tributes to friends and family, to figures that illustrate allegorical stories and comment on the threat of nuclear weaponry.

This historically significant exhibition brings together 38 of John Perceval’s ceramic angels from 20 major public and private collections across Australia, including the Australian War Memorial, Canberra; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; and Shepparton Art Museum. The exhibition will explore the themes of the angels and examine their place within John Perceval’s artistic practice and world-at-large as a father, friend, and avant-garde member of society in conservative 1950s and ’60s Australia.

Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s Ceramic Angels will be accompanied by a new essay on the angels by art historian, Damian Smith. The essay is included in a 32 page full colour catalogue, and will also be published on the exhibition blog, Here you’ll also find images of the angels being reproduced alongside contextual information, interviews, guest blog entries and education resources.

$1.5 Million Dollar Pledge from Copulos Family to a New SAM

On Thursday 7 August at Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), the announcement was made that the Copulos Family, through the Peter and Maria Copulos Foundation, pledged to donate $3 million over the next 10 years in the local Shepparton community.

Stephen Copulos said:

‘It would be fantastic if we could establish a self-sustaining Museum development within 10 years. It could be the first museum in the world that can pay its own way, right here in the heart of Victoria, something we can be proud of.'

To kick start the pledge, the Copulos Family has donated $20,000 to the SAM Foundation in the form of a fundraising initiative, the Tree of Giving, for a New SAM. The Tree of Giving is displayed in the entrance of SAM, allowing for the public to pledge their support by buying a Gold ($300), Silver ($200) or Bronze ($100) leaf, with their name inscribed, to be placed on the Tree of Giving. Alternatively you can buy ‘A New SAM' lapel pin for $20 to help spread the word about why an expanded Art Museum would be good for Shepparton. The Tree of Giving and SAM lapel pin proceeds will go toward the capital fundraising drive for a new SAM.

SC: ‘Our goal is to fill the tree within 12 months. When the Tree of Giving is filled with leaves, it has the potential to raise $500,000 dollars. It will make a stunning addition to the gallery as well as a great talking point for the community where we can all proudly show off our part in the involvement of a new SAM.'

The official launch of the Tree of Giving will be at SAM's next major exhibition opening of Delinquent Angel: John Perceval's Ceramic Angels and Friends of SAM event A Toast to the Angels gala dinner and wine auction, to be held on Saturday 30 August. Bookings for this event can be made at the SAM shop in the entrance to SAM, or by phoning (03) 5832 9861.

Another $1.5m will be donated by the Copulos Family to various local health services in the Goulburn Valley to assist with the much needed improvement of health services in the region. Stephen Copulos stated this may include hospital and cancer services. It is well known that Peter Copulos is very passionate about country areas getting the same medical treatment as those in the city.

Peter Copulos said:

‘In making this commitment today, our family is humbled and showing our appreciation for the community we live in. We try and play our part in giving better access to more services and facilities. I have always been passionate about health, and believe that we in regional Australia should be entitled to expect an equal standard of health services to those offered in the big cities. I trust that others in our community will share my vision, and I take this opportunity to encourage other local businesses and families to make a contribution for our community's benefit. No matter how large or small, every bit helps.'

Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan said:

‘The Copulos family has once again demonstrated their genuine commitment to the development of Greater Shepparton and the wellbeing of our community, with a pledge of $1.5 million to assist with the creation of a new SAM. Their support has given the fundraising project huge momentum and is a solid base from which to build. I urge our community and all others who are interested in being part of this exciting new SAM project to visit the current museum and donate by purchasing a leaf to place on the Tree of Giving, another wonderful initiative of the Copulos family.'

SAM is open 7 days from 10am to 4pm (public holidays 1pm to 4pm).
Shepparton Art Museum is proudly provided by Greater Shepparton City Council, located at 70 Welsford Street, Shepparton. For general SAM enquiries and program/event bookings please contact: (03) 5832 9861, email, or visit

Image: (l-r) Peter and Stephen Copulos place their leaves on the new Tree of Giving for a New SAM at Shepparton Art Museum.


For more information regarding this media release, and for interview and photo/video opportunities, please contact SAM Marketing Co-ordinator Amina Barolli on ph: (03) 5832 9522 E: