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

Winter school holiday fun activities at SAM

The Shepparton Art Museum is offering a week of hands-on school holiday activities to allow kids to explore their creativity from Monday 1 to Saturday 6 July.

Kicking off the program is a clay workshop Mischievous Me on a Plate where children can create a portrait of themselves on a plate with help from Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award finalist Stephen Bird. Stephen makes quirky portraits of his family, friends and even characters in folk tales.

SAM and Aquamoves are teaming up to provide a fun Sensory Play activity with a whole lot of pool noodles, shaving cream and more. Wet weather gear is a must!

Kids that prefer a less active workshop might like to learn the art of origami where they can create a figure from folding paper. For something different check out the blu-tak workshop with Drawing Wall artist Alex Pittendrigh. Kids can build small artworks with this everyday medium to help shape a giant blu-tak artwork in the Maude Street Mall. Alex is also running another workshop at SAM where kids create an artwork they can take home.

“Holidays at SAM are always an excitingly creative time,” said SAM Director Rebecca Coates. “This year we have workshops in SAM, in the Maude Street Mall and at Aquamoves. Some are free and some are low cost but all allow children to 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. “We have two new exciting exhibitions which the whole family can enjoy.”

Bookings are essential, except for the Mall activities, as numbers are limited – visit SAM’s Events page  for more information. 

LISTEN: Interview with Rebecca Coates and Lynda Draper for ABCRN The Art Show

Lynda Draper, the newly announced winner of the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Prize for 2019, and SAM Director Rebecca Coates, were recently interviewed By ABC RN’s Fiona Gruber to discuss the state of play for ceramics in Australia.

Lynda’s work, Somnambulism 2019, is a series of eight incredible sculptures that resemble royal crowns. They were inspired by themes of Royalty—an idea that came to her when she was on a recent residency near the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris. 

To listen to the interview, please click through to the ABC RN website.

LISTEN: Interview with Rebecca Coates and Christopher Thomson

SAM Director Rebecca Coates was recently interviewed by Christopher Thomson for Vision Australia Radio’s Behind the Scenes program about the Finer Grain exhibition.

You can listen to the interview by visiting the Vision Australia Radio website or via the player below. 

This episode of the Behind the Scenes program was aired on Monday 24 June 2019.

Start listening at the 13:39 minute mark for the beginning of the interview.

Ceramic Prize winner announced

The prestigious $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Prize for 2019 has been awarded to Lynda Draper for her work Somnambulism 2019.

The work entails a series of busts of kings and queens, their forms echoing the neoclassical statues discovered in grounds of a European palace, shrouded during the winter months to aid conservation. Monument-like, Draper places these new figures on tall white plinths. Their crisp whites, pearly pinks and pastel hues appear ghost-like and translucent, in contrast to the usual weightiness of bronze and concrete more commonly used for sculptures in parks and public spaces.   

For the artist, Somnambulism, or sleepwalking, is the dream-space between conscious and unconscious thought. The title conjures a psychological space with echoes of the wintery parklands, gardens and decorative excesses of the Château du Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris, France, where Draper was recently an artist-in-residence.

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The Judging panel commented:

“The winning body of work by Lynda Draper, Somnambulism, 2019, is startling in its freshness. The narrative and ambition pushes at the very margins of what we understand clay to be able to do. In some respects, the coil form is the most rudimentary of forms.  However, Draper extends this rudimentary form into a series of portraits of royal personages that takes our understanding of architecture, space, decoration and form in gravity-defying new directions. These works are both childlike and sophisticated all in the one package.” 

Director of the Shepparton Art Museum [SAM], Dr Rebecca Coates, commended all finalists for the depth of their engagement with the ceramic medium and the particularly high quality of their presentations.

“The judges were looking for a work of exceptional quality; a work that engages with themes and ideas of our times; a work that is technically and conceptually ambitious; and, as an acquisitive prize, makes a strategic contribution to the development of the SAM Collection.

“This nationally significant award is now seen as an opportunity for artists working in the ceramics medium in Australia to go beyond their previous ambitions.  It is less of an award in the traditional sense and more of a challenge and a potentially career-defining opportunity.  This is a different ambition from many other art prizes today in that it allows artists the space, after their first expression of interest, to go away and develop something to even higher levels. This year for the first time the Judges shortlisted six artists rather than the usual five, due to the calibre and quality of ideas and proposals.”

“All of the artists have responded to the challenge with universal ambition.  In this sense, it has been like a true competition with each surpassing any expectations.  The artists have over-performed in terms of scope and ambition for each individual project,” Ms Coates said.

Curator, Lara Merrington said “Through a residency at the Chateau du Versailles, in Paris, Draper invites us to consider a European heritage, and our often-complex relationship to the history of Australia’s first European settlement and its impact on the Australian landscape and people.  Brought up on the European rituals, history, myths and legends, these tales of kings and queens, princes and princesses, dark forests and wintry Christmases take on an alien-ness in relation to our lived Australian context.”

The other 2019 finalists are: Julie Bartholomew, Stephen Bird, Greg Daly, Juz Kitson and Isadora Vaughan.

This year’s judges are Lisa Slade (Assistant Director, Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia), Stephen Benwell (Artist) and Rebecca Coates (Director, SAM).

SAM’s reputation as the leading collection of ceramics in Regional Australia is further reinforced staging this fifth biennial of the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award exhibition.

The relationship between the Sidney Myer Fund and Shepparton Art Museum spans over 28 years. Through this relationship, and the acquisitive Award, over 175 works have been acquired. 

Image: Lynda Draper with her winning work at SAM, photo by Amina Barolli. 

Explore the creative world of ceramics with workshops

With the winner of the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award being announced on Friday 21 June the Shepparton Art Museum is providing workshops for people of all abilities with two of Australia’s leading ceramics practitioners in this award.

SAM is running workshops on the weekend with two of the shortlisted artists with works on display in the exhibition. The first workshop on Saturday 22 June – Building our Landscapes with Julie Bartholomew – provides an opportunity to work with clay. The workshop uses techniques such as ‘burn-out’, sgrafitto and sculptural techniques to build a series of forms exploring nature.

Participants can make a sculpture and take home their pieces at a later date once fired. This five hour workshop commences at 10.30 am is for people aged over 16 years and bookings are essential. The cost of the workshop is $150 and details are on the website.

Internationally respected ceramic artist Greg Daly will present a workshop Lustre: An overview with Greg Daly on Sunday 23 June from 10.30 to 2.30 which covers practical and technical components. Daly will present a brief historical survey of lustre from the ninth century beginnings in Egypt to contemporary times, talking to his work in the exhibition.

The workshop will cover pigment, lustre glaze, fuming and resinate techniques, with participants gaining a greater understanding of how to create a lustred surface on their own work.

The four hour workshop costs $35 and includes light refreshments. People must be 16 years of age and over. Bookings are essential.

Visit our events page for details and bookings.



Panel Discussion – Judges & Judgement: the tough gig of awarding prizes

When: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 at 6:30pm 
Where: Shepparton Art Museum, 70 Welsford Street, Shepparton 
How much: Free, but registration is essential

How hard is it to judge a prize where the stakes a high? Hear from the judges of the 2019 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, including Lisa Slade (Assistant Director, Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia), Stephen Benwell (Artist) and Rebecca Coates (Director, SAM), as they speak about the role of art prizes and ceramics in the contemporary climate.

Celebrating the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award

In Conversation – Artist Talks

When: Fri, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:00pm – 6:00pm 
Where: Shepparton Art Museum, 70 Welsford Street, Shepparton 
How much: Free, but registration is essential

Join the excitement of the 2019 SMFACA celebrations and start your evening with an informal artist’s talk.

Listen to some of the finalists speak about their practice and inspiration in creating a specific body of work for this acquisitive prize exhibition, and help calm their nerves before the big announcement!


Celebrating women artists – A Finer Grain: Selected Works from the SAM Collection

The latest curated exhibition of works from the Shepparton Art Museum Collection is now on display and presents key and lesser-known works by Australian women artists across several decades.

A Finer Grain: Selected Works from the SAM Collection spans the full breadth of SAM’s 83 year collection history. The artworks are displayed chronologically, loosely grouped by decade from the date of creation. The artworks span a range of mediums and subjects, and showcase the breadth of SAM’s material focus in works on paper, painting, and Australian ceramics.

SAM Director, Rebecca Coates, says “this approach offers insights into SAM’s collection and the history of its development, as pertinent then as it is today.”

The exhibition includes the first work by a female artist Alice Currie acquired by the museum in 1938, with an early focus on landscapes, still-lives and portraiture. “The exhibition highlights some of SAM’s collection strengths, such as the acquisition in the 1970’s of many of Australia’s now renowned early 20th century Australian Modernist women artists including Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, and many others, when their works were more affordable than their male counterparts,” said Dr Coates.

“From the 1970s and ’80s, ceramics became SAM’s collection strength, and one we continue to celebrate today as the most significant collection of Australian ceramics in regional Australia.”

“Importantly, the exhibition also includes the first acquisition by a female Aboriginal artist Dr Thanakupi Gloria Fletcher James, AO in 1991, and a number of recent acquisitions by Aboriginal artists from south-east Australia and across Australia. It reveals the importance these works have as part of SAM’s collection, enabling a fuller and more complex understanding of Australia’s culture.”

Rebecca Coates says the development of SAM’s contemporary collection reflects the many themes and ideas that artists explore in new and exciting ways but with ceramics remaining core to the collection – a point of regional difference for SAM.”

“There are always surprises and discoveries with exhibitions of this kind. Artists that can be overlooked and sometimes forgotten, or unfashionable artists and artworks are also celebrated along with the well know ones,” she said.

“It is the stories of people, artists and artworks that enable many of Australia’s great regional galleries to celebrate and rethink histories within our contemporary context in new and exciting ways.”

There are 114 works in the exhibition – 113 from the SAM collection and one on loan – with 15 indigenous works included. The works include both 2D and 3D art with 60 per cent of the works by living artists. 

The exhibition opened on 18 May and will be on show until 25 October 2020.