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SAM preparing for prestigous Sidney Myer Australian Ceramic Award

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is set to enhance its reputation as the leading collection of ceramics in Regional Australia with the fifth biennial $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award exhibition, from 22 June to 1 September 2019.

The Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, is Australia’s richest and most prestigious ceramic award. The relationship between the Sidney Myer Fund and Shepparton Art Museum spans over 26 years. Through this relationship, and the acquisitive Award, over 175 works have been acquired.

This year’s finalists are: Julie Bartholomew, Stephen Bird, Greg Daly, Lynda Draper, Juz Kitson and Isadora Vaughan.

The 2019 Award will be judged by Lisa Slade (Assistant Director, Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia), Stephen Benwell (Artist) and Rebecca Coates (Director, SAM).

The Award celebrates and promotes contemporary Australian artists working in the ceramic medium by providing an unprecedented opportunity for a major national ceramic award and exhibition in Australia.

Artists are encouraged to explore and experiment with the ceramic medium and to express conceptual issues which are important to their practice.

SAM Curator, Lara Merrington says “This year themes emerging are relevant to our contemporary times: the environment and our human connection with and upon it, but also a sense of wonder and magic – perhaps an optimism and escapism that emerges from these heavier issues.”

Greg Daly’s installation draws on a personal connection to landscape expressed through his glorious lustre glazed earthenware, paired with experimentations in new media.

Julie Bartholomew’s installation of tall cylindrical porcelain and glass columns are a response to climate change and scientific research in Antarctica.

Stephen Bird explores the intersection where painting, sculpture and ceramics overlap through an installation of satirical works informed by his Scottish heritage and a sometimes-interest in Greek Mythology.

This sense of myth and magic is carried through in Juz Kitson’s highly detailed sculptural works, which look at a human connection with the cycles of life, of plants, and of regeneration.

Isadora Vaughan’s site-specific installation investigates the interior and exterior landscapes of the human body as it relates to architectural space, geology and the natural landscape.

Linda Draper explores relationships between the material world and the metaphysical, and has been inspired by walks through the landscaped gardens of a recent residency in Versaille, France.

Ceramics has increasingly been adopted by emerging and established contemporary artists in exciting and innovative ways and recent national and international exhibitions have highlighted significantly expanded possibilities for the medium.

Director of SAM, Dr Rebecca Coates, said, “The selected finalists represent the exciting and innovative ways that artists are working with ceramics as a contemporary medium, and we are looking forward to seeing how their projects develop and evolve.”

The winner will be announced on Friday 21 June 2019. The exhibition opens from 22 June to 1 September.


The SMFACA is one of the most prestigious awards in the visual arts in Australia, with a uniquely ceramic focus. It has evolved over its many year history. It began in 1991 as the Sidney Myer Fund Australia Day Ceramic Award, and evolved into the Sidney Myer Fund International Ceramic Art Award in 1997, with the aim of providing an unprecedented opportunity for a major international ceramic award and exhibition in Australia.

In 2009, SAM reviewed the Award, and returned it to a format that showcases and supports contemporary Australian artists. Leading ceramicists, potters, master craftspeople and contemporary artists are now receiving recognition for extending their practice and the possibilities of ceramics. This has led to a significant repositioning from the craft realm into the contemporary art world. SAM has long supported this trend and it is this leading focus on ceramics that has attracted a new wave of emerging and established contemporary artists who have made the medium their own. Ceramics now appear in many national and international exhibitions and audiences are intrigued by the medium’s creative potential.

The Sidney Myer Fund was established by the will of Sidney Myer when he died in 1934. Having arrived penniless in Melbourne in 1899 at the age of 21, he wanted to give back to the Australian community in which he himself had prospered.

The Sidney Myer Fund Trustees are proud to be associated with an exhibition that understands, explores and challenges the possibilities of ceramics and art making in our contemporary world. As a direct outcome of the relationship between the Sidney Myer Fund and Shepparton Art Museum over 26 years, over 200 works have been acquired, creating a diverse and dynamic collection by both Australian and international artists.

In 2017, the Award featured outstanding new work by Glenn Barkley, Karen Black, Jenny Orchard (winner of the 2017 SMFACA), Laith McGregor and Yasmin Smith. Alongside the winner, Jenny Orchard, works by Glenn Barkley and Yasmin Smith were acquired for the SAM Collection.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran was awarded the 2015 SMFACA, his work showcased alongside exciting new work by Penny Byrne, Adam John Cullen, Sanné Mestrom and Ruth Hutchinson.

Previous winners of the Award have included such distinguished artists as Deborah Halpern, Gwyn Hansson-Piggott and Stephen Benwell.

More information here.

Re-animating art for contemporary audiences

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) presents Arlo Mountford’s first major solo exhibition, Deep Revolt from 18 April – 10 June 2019 continuing SAM’s commitment to staging premier major shows by leading contemporary artists.

Melbourne-based, English-born artist Arlo Mountford’s exhibition Deep Revolt at the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), playfully probes the terms in which we engage with art and the way meaning can be twisted, through a contemporary lens.

The exhibition is the only showing of Mountford’s works in Victoria and features large-scale interactive installations with video, animation and sound, drawings and sculpture, challenging the ideas of time, history and our contemporary norms through a 14-year span of his work.

SAM director, Dr Rebecca Coates says “Mountford mashes up visual culture in order to engage with and reflect on our contemporary world. Time and history are common themes. Arlo’s work is complex and contains varying dimensions of joy, humour, history and horror making it hugely engaging for a wide audience,” she said.

“The exhibition will appeal to a generation where making videos, memes and text clips for social media is now second nature to communicate and comment on the world,” Dr Coates said.

Amusing, strange and laden with art and contemporary culture references, his animated films are hand drawn with a mouse directly into a computer. He reimagines both real and created spaces from the art world, digitally reconstructing the interiors of iconic museums or retracing the brushstrokes of European masterpieces well known and loved for centuries. This process allows him to experience art with fresh eyes and offer new readings of its ongoing meaning and relevance in contemporary society.

SAM has included two additional works in the exhibition, The Folly, 2009, and Clock, 2016. The Folly reimagines three paintings by the Flemish renaissance master Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569), Hunters in the Snow (1565), The Corn Harvest (1565) and Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (1558) stitched together into one long panel. A bird flits from one painting to another, and the sounds of nature and barking dogs permeate the space. The results are a pleasing naivety that Mountford describes as very South Park.

The Clock, 2016 continues Mountford’s interest in time, but also references the ready-made object and hand-made aesthetic – a counterpoint to his highly technical video installations and digital works. “Mountford’s work in Deep Revolt is expected to resonate strongly with local audiences who appreciate a return to the hand-made, the DIY aesthetic, and in part, a yearning for a more simple life, in which play and imagination are central, and commodity subverted,” said Dr Coates.

Selected video works will trace a gradual distillation of Mountford’s ideas. His recent work 100 years (2016), an animated chronology of appropriated artworks charting the evolution of abstraction since the ‘zero point’ of Malevich’s Black Square in 1915, will provide a fitting end point to the exhibition.


The exhibition opens on Wednesday 17 April from 6.00-8.00pm with an artist talk prior from 5.00-6.00pm. RSVPs are essential via 5832 9861.

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) presents Arlo Mountford: Deep Revolt, an exhibition developed by Goulburn Regional Art Gallery and toured nationally in partnership with Museums & Galleries of NSW, alongside key works by Arlo Mountford. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

New SAM site visit by Deputy Prime Minister

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum today visited the site of the new Shepparton Art Museum at Victoria Park Lake on Wyndham Street.

Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Kim O’Keeffe formally thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for supporting the new SAM with their funding of $15m towards the build.

Mr McCormack reiterated the importance of large scale projects such as the new SAM for regional Victoria and said it would be drawcard to the region

Mr McCormack also formally announced the $208 million for the Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass stage 1 project. 

New Shepparton Art Museum Limited Board announced

The Board of Shepparton Art Museum Limited has appointed six new directors after a lengthy process of advertising and interviews.

The Board comprises nine Company Directors and is a skills-based Board with representation from a broad range of sectors. Two of the Directors are Greater Shepparton City Council nominated positions, and one Director is from the SAM Foundation.

The Board is:

  • Jeannie Furphy
  • Jo Gartner
  • Peter Harriott (GSCC CEO)
  • John Head (SAM Foundation)
  • Stephen Merrylees
  • Kimberley Moulton
  • Drew Pettifer
  • Naomi Ryan
  • Chris Teitzel (GSCC Director Corporate Services)

Director and Company Secretary, Chris Teitzel, said Shepparton Art Museum Limited has been established as a company limited by guarantee to operate the Shepparton Art Museum as a public art museum.

Mr Teitzel said “Shepparton Art Museum Ltd has established a Board with great diversity of skills and backgrounds. We have representatives from the legal, art, indigenous, community, financial, business, marketing and education sectors.”

“All of the Board are strongly connected to Greater Shepparton and demonstrated a commitment to guide the future direction of the new Shepparton Art Museum,” said Mr Teitzel.

“This is a great opportunity for skilled, experienced and knowledgeable people to direct the new Shepparton Art Museum to provide an inspiring, community hub for locals to meet and socialise,” he said.

The Museum aims to present exemplary contemporary, international exhibitions of relevance to the public and particularly the region’s diverse Aboriginal and multi-cultural communities; and provide opportunities for members of the public to learn, be challenged, think about, and emotionally engage with art.

The new SAM will provide access to the art collections and significant ceramics collection in unique and engaging ways. It will also present Aboriginal art and support local Aboriginal artists to provide complementary programs and support local artists in the development and presentation of their art and the creation of empowering experiences.

Board Directors serve for a minimum of two to three years to a maximum term of nine years. The new SAM will operate as a not-for-profit, charitable organisation and the Board positions are voluntary.

For more information on the new Shepparton Art Museum project visit our new SAM project page.


Jeannie Furphy

Jeannie Furphy is a former stockbroker who has lived in Shepparton since 2000. Jeannie was raised in rural western Victoria before studying and working in Melbourne prior to her move to Shepparton. 

Jeannie holds a Bachelor of Business and a postgraduate Accounting Degree and has experience in financial management and a strong understanding of its importance to any organisation. 

Jeannie has a deep understanding of the value of effective community-based activities and organisations through numerous volunteer roles and committee involvement.

Jo Gartner

Jo Gartner is Digital Marketing Project Manager at Dexus, one of Australia’s leading property groups.

Jo has more than 15 years’ experience working across the arts, destination marketing, national retail shopping centres and property developments in Melbourne and Sydney.

In her time at Dexus, Jo has led the marketing strategy for large-scale city retail dining precincts including Southgate Melbourne and the award-winning marketing launch strategy for Gateway Sydney in Circular Quay. Jo also worked on major event projects during her time at the City of Melbourne including the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series with NGV International and Australian Centre for the Moving Image, while responsible for promoting city visitation.

Jo holds a Masters of Marketing from Melbourne Business School and Bachelor of Arts Management from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and is originally from Murchison.

Peter Harriott

Peter Harriott is the CEO of Greater Shepparton City Council, and was previously CEO of Wattle Range Council (South Australia) 2013-2016, and a Director at Greater Shepparton City Council 2000-2012.

Peter has worked mostly throughout Victoria in local government over the past 30 years including three years in the picturesque Limestone Coast of South Australia.

Peter’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Masters of Business Administration, Building Surveyor Certificate, Engineer for Water Supply Certificate and a Municipal Engineers Certificate.

John Head

John Head has held many roles in the arts community in Shepparton including being a member of the new SAM Project Board, recent Artistic Director of the Shepparton Festival, Convener of the Shepparton Short Film Festival, playwright, actor and member of the Shepparton Theatre Arts Board.

John is a podiatrist in private practice in Shepparton since 1983. He has been a Fellow of the Australasian Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine since 1998 and completed a Masters by Research in 2002. John has presented regularly on Podiatric and sports medicine topics at Australian conferences since 1988.

John was also on the board of the SheppARTon Festival between 1999 and 2015 with the role of Artistic Director from 2005 to 2014. He is a Board member of the Shepparton Theatre Arts Group and a regular actor and playwright.

Stephen Merrylees

Stephen Merrylees is SMR Legal’s Managing Director and has extensive experience as a senior political adviser and as a government lawyer with the federal government (most recently Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). He is renowned for finding practical solutions to clients’ complicated and seemingly gridlocked matters.

A five-term Mayor and nationally accredited mediator, Stephen applies this exclusive skillset to commercial and estate matters. His advice on governance issues impacting private and public sector organisations is highly sought after.

Clients appreciate Stephen’s life experience of operating a large family property, lecturing in law at Melbourne University Dookie Campus and as Executive Director of Goulburn Murray Community Leadership Program (Fairley Leadership).

Stephen has served on numerous local and state advisory boards and committees and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course. He is currently a Director of Shepparton Villages and a member of the CFA Shepparton District Headquarters Brigade.

Kimberley Moulton

Kimberley Moulton is a Yorta Yorta woman and was born and raised in Shepparton. Kimberley is a curator and writer and Senior Curator South Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria (2016-present). Kimberley has worked in curatorial roles at Melbourne Museum for 10 years (Bunjilaka Project Officer and Curator 2008-2015) and has curated over 16 exhibitions with the Victorian Koorie community.

In 2018 Kimberley was lead curator for Mandela: My Life, an exhibition on Nelson Mandela at Melbourne Museum in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Kimberley is passionate about supporting First Peoples cultures, histories, futures and agency within cultural institutions and has researched historical First Peoples collections across the world, connecting history and people, considering what it means historically and for the future of cultural materials in institutions. Kimberley has written extensively for art and museum publications nationally and internationally and held research, curatorial and writing fellowships across Europe, UK, South Asia and America. Kimberley has been engaged with SAM for several years with her arts writing and lecturing and was a judge for the 2016 Indigenous Ceramic Art award.

Dr Drew Pettifer

Dr Drew Pettifer is an artist, academic, lawyer and small business owner who divides his time between Melbourne and Kyabram in the Goulburn Valley. He has strong connections to the region having been born in Shepparton. He is an active member of the SAM Foundation and the Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association.

Drew holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours – First Class) in Cultural Studies (The University of Melbourne, 2005), a Graduate Certificate in Visual Art (Victorian College of the Arts, 2009), a Masters of Arts Management (RMIT University, 2010) and a PhD in Fine Art (Monash University, 2017).

Drew is a peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts and the City of Melbourne. His art is in the National Gallery of Victoria, Monash Gallery of Art and the City of Melbourne Arts and Heritage Collection, as well as private collections.

Naomi Ryan

Naomi Ryan is a Partner at PwC with over 12 years of experience working closely with both owners and management of growing private businesses, ASX 200 companies and not for profit organisations bringing her in depth knowledge and experience in assurance and audit services to add value to her clients.

Naomi is passionate about working with innovative and growing businesses, with expertise in advising clients on financial reporting matters, business risk assessments, acquisitions, IPO’s, corporate governance and accounting compliance obligations. Naomi’s collaborative approach in working with her clients has resulted in a strong network and reputation for being a trustworthy and dedicated advisor. Naomi is now also focussed on using her skills gained through her successful career to be part of a company board, which is focused on solving important social issues.

Naomi is a certified chartered accountant and holds bachelor degrees in Business (Accounting) and Arts (Japanese language) from Swinburne University.

Naomi grew up in Shepparton, country Victoria, attending Wanganui Park Secondary College, where she continues to return to her family home to visit friends and family. Naomi now resides in Melbourne and enjoys travelling the world to experience different cultures across the globe.

Chris Teitzel

Chris Teitzel is a strategic, community focused individual with exceptional corporate governance, finance and operation planning skills. He has a strong interest in the Arts and over the course of his career has overseen the strategic direction and operations of 4 regional art galleries, 2 regional historical museums and 2 performing arts centres.

Chris has been with Greater Shepparton City Council as Director Corporate Services since 2014 and has almost 30 year’s local government and private sector experience in both Queensland and Victoria. Chris has held many senior roles including CEO, Director Community and Environmental Services, Director Corporate Services and Manager Finance as well a position of Commercial Manager in the private sector.

Chris is a Certified Practicing Accountant with a Degree in Business and a Graduate Certificate in Management.


Contract for building new SAM signed

Construction on the new Shepparton Art Museum is set to commence on Friday following the signing of the contract between Greater Shepparton City Council and Kane Constructions Pty Ltd, the successful tenderer for the build.

The construction contract was awarded to Kane Constructions at a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday 26 February 2019.

“Kane are very excited to be appointed to construct this unique and special project,” said Kane Construction Director, Geoff Purcell.

“At Kane, we have a long and successful history of delivering tailor-made, complex and demanding building projects throughout Victoria and are very much looking forward to making the new SAM vison a reality.”

Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the Council was pleased the contract has now been signed to enable works to commence on April 5. “This is the most significant and bold building that Council has invested in, and we have every confidence that Kane Constructions will do the design justice. It will be exciting to see some movement on site as we watch the new SAM take form.”  

The works will necessitate the removal of 37 trees in the footprint of the SAM building. The trees were part of the planning process and were subject to a detailed inspection and audit. The majority of the trees are of low to medium value and some are being removed due to noted risks such as consistent limb failures.

Council is replacing the trees with 35,000 tube stock trees, 31 medium (45 litre) trees and 46 large (100 litre) trees to offset the loss. The trees will be Australian native and indigenous plants suitable to the area. This will ensure carbon offset for the Goulburn Valley region although there was no requirement for offsets on these tree removals.

The building will be constructed with the following actions and completed by the end of 2020:

Stage 1:

  • Site preparation and tree removal as part of endorsed arborist plans
  • Piles completed & ground floor slab underway mid 2019
  • Level 4 slab & roof steel structure completed late 2019
  • Façade completed early 2020
  • Fit out completed mid 2020

Stage 2:

  • Landscaping, car parking late 2020 including the planting 80 mature trees and 35,000 tube stock

For more information visit

Latest SAM Drawing Wall artist talk on Friday

Discover the meaning of the intriguing and barely visible ‘AT THIS SITE’, the latest Drawing Wall instalment by artist Steven Rhall at a free artist talk on Friday 5 April from 12.30pm.

Artist Steven Rhall and SAM Community and Indigenous Engagement Officer Belinda Briggs present a lunchtime artist talk to find out more about Rhall’s art practice and the way this informs his work. This unique drawing wall is a signpost that reflects on Australia’s history and the absence of Aboriginal voice.

Steven Rhall is an interdisciplinary artist of the Taungurung People, whose practice spans photography, sculpture, and performance including public and private interventions responding both to cultural histories of place and ideas about their potential futures. He lives and works in Melbourne, Victoria.

Rhall exhibits internationally, lectures at the Victorian College of the Arts, and is a current PhD candidate at Monash University on Birrarung-ga land (Melbourne, Australia).

All are welcome to come along to this free talk, register your interest via the event on SAM’s Facebook Page, online, or just drop in.

Autumn school holiday fun activities at SAM

The Shepparton Art Museum is offering a week of school holiday activities to allow kids to explore their creativity from Monday 8 to Saturday 13 April.

The activities range from decorating clay jugs, creating a woven wall handing, slime making, archaeology and a combined theatre performance and ceramic workshop based on Picasso and His Dog, partnering with Riverlinks.

“We are offering something different these school holidays with the Picasso Clay Day and the Picasso and His Dog performance at Riverlinks,” said SAM Curator, Lara Merrington. “Kids can create their own ceramic plate based on the creative world of Picasso and later attend the fun performance at Riverlinks.”

“Holidays at SAM are always an excitingly creative time,” said Ms Merrington. “Both children and adults take away something more than just an artwork – they build on their personal and professional creativity, their confidence, and learn new techniques and approaches to art while meeting new friends.”

“I would encourage anyone who would like to introduce their children to the museum to book into one of our workshops and find out what else is on offer at SAM,” she said.

“SAM also has an after school Art Club which is very popular and also a SAM Little Hands series for younger children, which allows them to play and get messy while participating in fun art activities. If you are planning what you might want your children to be involved in this year then come and have a chat to one of our SAM staff who can provide all the information.”

The activities are suitable for a range of ages and are free or low cost. Bookings are essential as numbers are limited – visit

Please note that bookings for the theatre performance Picasso and His Dog must be made through the Riverlinks box office on 5832 9511 or via the website