Skip to content Skip to navigation
Open 6 days (closed Tuesdays). Weekdays: 10am to 4pm. Weekends: 10am to 5pm. Elsewhere at SAM café: 8am to 4pm.

Soft Core to show at Shepparton Art Museum

Shepparton Art Museum is pleased to present Soft Core, an exhibition of newly commissioned and recent work by 12 Australian and International artists whose work questions the fluctuating meaning of softness.

Soft Core presents artistic practices that explore the many facets of ‘softness’ – from large-scale inflatables to forms made from soft materials to materials that simply look soft. These artists are making works that demand attention.

This exhibition includes works by 12 preeminent Australian and International artists including international superstar artist Tony Oursler; Michael Parekowhai, arguably New Zealand’s most celebrated artist; Patricia Piccinini, who famously designed the Skywhale hot air balloon; and Mikala Dwyer who courted controversy for her ritualistic excrement-based performance in 2013.

In the 20th century, artists began to disassemble the notion of traditional sculpture by adding and subtracting constructions, incorporating found objects and designating everyday items as art. These adaptive and divergent methods of form making continue today in a generation of artists who define sculpture in the negative condition: not bronze, not stone, not the macho force of the blast furnace.

The materials in this exhibition encompass air, inflatable nylon, unfired clay and plastics bags – materials that have been co-opted for their versatility and their mutability between function and emotion. Some of the works require activation – such as electricity or inflation to become whole while others inhabit their softness quietly.

Director of Shepparton Art Museum, Rebecca Coates, sees the fun, provocative and inspiring nature of this exhibition as a good fit for Shepparton audiences.

“Shepparton has a strong representation of groups who use and make textiles – from quilting, to weaving, to local Afghani embroiderers.

“There is a connection between this exhibition and SAM’s significant collection of Australian ceramics. Prior to firing, clay is of course a soft material – one that engages through its sheer tactility, and malleable potentiality. That’s in part why there has been an upsurge in the popularity of ceramics. Soft Core builds on the work we have done around contemporary artists engaging with these materials in a contemporary way.

“The show features work by leading Australian artists who have built a reputation in part based on materiality – Kathy Temin with her fake fur and soft environments; Mikala Dwyer with her pantyhose, oversized plastic sculptures, which are actually made from the material that you use for coke bottles; and Louise Weaver with her crocheted animals, objects and installations that intrigue visitors with whimsy and wonder,” Ms Coates said.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive soft-form catalogue featuring newly commissioned writing on each of the exhibition artists by significant institutional and independent writers including Justin Paton, Lisa Slade, Anna Davis, Jason Smith, Russell Storer, Georgina Cole, Francis E Parker, Vanessa Berry, Robert Leonard and Victoria Lynn.

Image: Michael Parekowhai, Cosmo McMurtry, 2006, woven nylon substrate, pigment, electrical components, 330 x 180 x 280 cm. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney © the artist and Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland


To arrange interviews with SAM Director Rebecca Coates and Curator Michael Do, please contact SAM Marketing Officer, Amina Barolli on +61 3 5832 9494 or by email:

Welcome to 2018 at SAM

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is proud to launch its first quarterly program for January to April this week, as well as its complete 2018 exhibition program online for all to engage with, participate in and share.

Showcasing four jam-packed months ahead, the SAM Program outlines temporary exhibitions, upcoming workshops for all ages and skill-levels, talks and other special events, as well as everyday offerings for all to enjoy. The 12-page booklet is available on SAM’s website to download, with hard copies available at SAM and in various locations around Shepparton.


Currently in its last days, SAM’s Summer exhibition, Cover Versions: Mimicry and Resistance uses mediums ranging from sound art and video to photography and installation, with artists drawing upon the histories of music, popular culture and the internet, ethnography and the natural world. New site-specific commissions highlight the discourse in the context of regional Victoria, from robotic flowers in Dookie’s golden canola fields to community choirs that interpret the SAM Collection and the museum architecture musically. Now showing until 14 January 2018.

From 27 January, SAM will present Soft Core, an exhibition of attention-grabbing 3D works that includes large-scale inflatables, forms made from soft materials, and materials that simply look soft. Soft Core is an exhibition for all ages – bring your family and friends to see the awe-inspiring recent work of 12 Australian and International artists. The official opening will be held on Friday 2 February at 6pm and include a special participatory installation of soft sculpture by the opening speaker, David Cross – artist and Professor of Art and Performance, Deakin University. On the following day, the work will be displayed for further participation in the Shepparton Maude Street Mall from 10am to 2pm. Soft Core is an exhibition curated by Micheal Do in conjunction with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and toured by Museums and Galleries of NSW. Showing from 27 January to 18 March 2018.

In early March, we’ll say goodbye to 80/80: Eighty Years of SAM – The Collection as the whole ground floor of SAM changes over to include two new collection exhibitions; Intimate Realities and Ever-present. Drawn largely from recent acquisitions, most of these works are being presented for the first time at SAM. Intimate Realities showcases a selection of sculptural works by leading Australian artists whose works engage, intrigue, and inspire through quiet contemplation, references to the body, musical refrain, and sheer enjoyment of materials. Ever-present is an exciting exhibition of historic and contemporary works by Indigenous artists, exploring the many ways that Country is explored and revealed through painting, ceramics and the beauty of every-day objects. Showing from 3 March 2018 to April 2019.

SAM’s Education Lab is a new initiative taking place from late March to mid-May, where students of all ages can work with artist Masato Takasaka to contribute to an ever-evolving exhibition over six weeks. The Education Lab coincides with other local community favourites: SAM Local Spotlight, celebrating home grown creativity; and Best of Friends, which invites all members of the Friends of SAM to show their work inside the museum. This year’s SAM Local Spotlight artist is Kate Hill.

SAM Local exhibitions will show from 29 March to 13 May 2018.

Kate Hill’s practice utilises site-specific materials of earth, clay and water, and processes such as sourcing, refining and sculpting to engage in temporal modalities of place – reflecting on both macro landscapes and systems – and the intimate space of walking. Through the excavation and processing of these materials she examines the stories that are held in this site, and the broader environmental and political questions associated with larger scale industries using similar processes.

Currently on show, the Drawing Wall #29 features work by Jon Campbell on the 4 x 12 metre wall in the Eastbank Centre, next door to the art museum. In February, SAM will commission its 30th Drawing Wall by well-known local artist Rosa Purbrick. The 30th edition of the wall will be marked and celebrated. David Harley will complete the 31st Drawing Wall in late April.

The fourth successful year of SAM’s Showcase sees Susan Frost’s minimalist forms that explore subtle gradations of colour and tone until late January, and to celebrate SAM going local in time for the Shepparton Festival, we’ll see local artist Kaye Poulton present new work in the 17th Showcase. The Showcase, located in the SAM Shop, provides visitors and collectors with a unique opportunity to acquire work by accomplished ceramic artists.

In late May, a survey exhibition of new and recent work by one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, Raquel Ormella, will include a wide variety of media, and particularly draw on her experimental textile works. The exhibition will explore key themes that Ormella has consistently developed in her work: social and environmental activism; human and animal relationships; nationalism and national identity. Showing from 26 May to 12 August 2018.

In late August, SAM will present its sixth iteration of the Indigenous Ceramic Award, with applications open to Indigenous artists and groups from 15 January until 5 March. Showing from 25 August to 11 November 2018.

To conclude 2018, a major collaborative, playful and immersive exhibition, Craftivism, will feature the work of over 16 contemporary Australian artists and artist collectives. Extending our understanding of craft-making traditions and the potential of various materialities, the works in Craftivism will subvert and extend these forms into the realm of activism and social change.  Many of the works included will encourage social connection between community members, and the idea of play and regeneration through collective processes. Showing from 24 November 2018 to 3 March 2019.



Ongoing favourites

SAM is thrilled to announce the return of sell-out programs from 2017 such as SAM Little Hands for toddlers and pre-schoolers and their carer; the SAM Art Club, after-school programming for kids and tweens; and SAM Out Late! for those secondary students and adults wanting to engage with art after hours and meet new friends. This year also sees the return of the popular SAM Art Trail, designed to encourage children and families to learn about the artworks through self-guided tours. Teachers and students can also access professional development workshops and talks.

Special lecture: Architecture as Land Art with John Denton

For those interested in the development of the new Shepparton Art Museum’s architecture, on Thursday 8 February, hear from John Denton, one of the founders of Denton Corker Marshall, talk about the idea of architecture as land art. As many will know, DCM won the architecture competition for the new SAM, and are working with Council on Detailed Designs. Denton will discuss DCM’s approach to architecture as an art object set in the landscape. Bookings can be made online via SAM’s website.

Summer Holiday Program

To kick off the year, SAM will present its popular Summer Holiday Program of art-making for people of all ages and skill-levels in mid-January. With some programs booked out as soon as details were published in December, make sure you book straight in if there’s something that interests you to avoid missing out! ­

Text Me, Clay Me

SAM’s sell-out clay play sessions are back. Taking inspiration from Jon Campbell’s, Drawing Wall #29, participants will explore text and typography. Using rolling, coiling and pinching techniques, kids will express themselves through loopy lettering, text and scale. Participants will get to take home their work after firing.

When: Monday 22 January, 1.30 to 3.30pm
For: Kids & Tweens
Cost: $20
Tutor: Kaye Poulton
Bookings: On the SAM website via Eventbrite

Skidding Squeegees

Our last screen-printing workshop was so much fun we’re rolling it out again. Learn how to print multiple colours and repetitive patterns onto a calico bag which you can take home, or bring your own white t-shirt and show it off when you get back to school.

When: Tuesday 23 January, 10.30am to 12pm or 1.30 to 3pm
For: Kids & Tweens
Cost: $20
Tutor: Tarli Bird
Bookings: On the SAM website via Eventbrite

A Summer Road Trip for Families
NGV Kids on Tour program

Spend the afternoon creating and making. To coincide with the National Gallery of Victoria’s Summer exhibition program, activities will include collage, board games and some take-home fun. More information on NGV Kids on Tour here. Come and join us!

When: Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 January, 1.30 to 3pm
Audience: Families
Cost: FREE  
Bookings: On the SAM website via Eventbrite

To view the SAM Program January to April 2018 which includes all of the above:

Free hard copies are available from the SAM Shop (70 Welsford Street, Shepparton), and in the Shepparton News on Friday 12 January.

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 bookings please contact: (03) 5832 9861, email, or visit SAM is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @SAM_Shepparton. 

Applications for SAM’s 2018 Indigenous Ceramic Award to open 15 Jan

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is pleased to announce applications will open for its 2018 Indigenous Ceramic Award (ICA) from Monday 15 January to 5 March.

As a $20,000 acquisitive prize, the 2018 ICA is open to Indigenous groups and individual artists to propose an exhibition concept to be realised at SAM. Eight shortlisted groups or artists will be supported with an exhibition development fee of $2,200 each to produce new work from March to July. The exhibition will be presented at SAM from 25 August to 11 November 2018.

The Award will be judged by Stephen Gilchrist, Associate Lecturer of Indigenous Art at the University of Sydney; Genevieve Grieves, freelance curator, educator and consultant; and Dr Rebecca Coates, Director of SAM, and announced at the exhibition opening on Saturday 25 August 2018.

The 2018 ICA is the sixth in the series of this biennial Award, showcasing new and exciting developments in the field. It contributes to the Art Museum’s significant holdings of Indigenous ceramic art, and provides cultural exchange opportunities for Indigenous artists from around Australia and within regional Victoria.

The ICA was established under the patronage of acclaimed artist Dr Gloria Thanakupi Fletcher in 2007. As the Award is increasingly recognised as one of Australia’s significant Indigenous cultural opportunities, there has been increasing interest and participation in the Award from solo artists and collectives in both remote communities and urban centres since its first iteration.

SAM Director, Dr Rebecca Coates, commented:

‘SAM is delighted to again be presenting our significant national Award that explores and celebrates Australia’s First Nation’s histories (past, present and still to be written). With each edition, we continue to be inspired and delighted by the outstanding works that extend our understanding of Australia’s First People. The ICA is also a means of supporting cultural and professional development programs that engage and inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences in new and exciting ways.’

Major Partners of the 2018 ICA include Sir Andrew and Lady Fairley Foundation and Mr Allan Myers AO QC.

Important Dates:

Applications open

Monday 15 January 2018

Applications close

Monday 5 March 2018

Artists advised of selection

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Due date for delivery of artworks to SAM

Monday 23 July 2018

Announcement and official opening

Saturday 25 August 2018

Exhibition dates

25 August to 11 November 2018

For further information on how to apply, full terms and conditions, please visit All expressions of interest for the Award are to be submitted online, or via post, and received by 5 March 2018, 5pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time).

Judge Biographies

Stephen Gilchrist: Belonging to the Yamatji people of the Inggarda language group of northwest Western Australia, Stephen Gilchrist is Associate Lecturer of Indigenous Art at the University of Sydney. He is a lecturer, writer and curator who has worked with the Indigenous Australian collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. He has held Curatorial Fellowships at the British Museum, the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College and Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University.

Genevieve Grieves: is a Worimi woman- traditionally from mid north coast New South Wales – who has lived in Narrm (Melbourne) for many years. She is an Indigenous artist, researcher, educator, curator, film-maker and oral historian who has accumulated nearly 20 years experience across the arts, culture and education sectors. Genevieve has consistently won recognition and awards for the variety of projects she has undertaken throughout her diverse career including online documentaries, film, art and exhibitions.

Dr Rebecca Coates: is the director of Shepparton Art Museum, and a Board member of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria. She is an established curator, writer and lecturer, with over 20 years professional art museum and gallery experience in both Australia and overseas. Prior to her current role, she was a Lecturer at the University of Melbourne in Art History and Art Curatorship. Rebecca has a PhD in Art History. She is an Honorary Fellow of the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.


For further information, print quality images of past Award winners, or to arrange interviews with SAM staff, please contact SAM Marketing Co-ordinators Sarah Werkmeister or Amina Barolli on (03) 5832 9522 or email or