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New exhibition explores the art of collecting.

This summer Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) presents Collector/Collected (7 December 2019 – 1 March 2020), 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.

Studio Pottery from the John Nixon Collection was conceived and presented at Deakin University by curator James Lynch in 2018. Collector/Collected presents an expanded iteration of this project, and invites contemporary artists to respond to the idea of collecting in a contemporary context.

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 At Gallery 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”.

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.


Free SAM tours for International Day of People with Disability

SAM is delighted to celebrate International Day of People with Disability by hosting free tours of their current exhibition A Finer Grain on Tuesday 3 December.

The Access SAM tours will be held at 11am and 2pm, with an Auslan interpreter accompanying the 2pm group.

Dr Rebecca Coates, Director of SAM says “SAM is a place where everyone in our community can feel inspired and engaged. It is our pleasure to host these specialised tours that aim to increase awareness of access and inclusion, and provide a welcoming environment for all.”

The tours will focus on A Finer Grain, an exhibition presenting key and lesser known works by Australian women spanning the full breadth of SAM’s 83 year collection history.

To book an Access SAM tour, please visit the SAM website or phone 5832 9861.

Access SAM.

Date: Tuesday 3 December at 11am or 2pm

Location: SAM

Cost: FREE

Last chance to view nationally significant exhibition

Locals will have one final chance to view the nationally significant Boyd works this weekend, with the exhibition Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul closing this Sunday 24 November.

24 November.

Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) has been delighted with the visitor response to the Bundanon Trust touring exhibition that opened in September, with visitors travelling from around the state to view the exhibition that explores Arthur Boyd’s lifetime of landscape paintings.

Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul features works principally from Bundanon Trust’s collection, and was curated by Barry Pearce, Emeritus Curator of Australian Art AGNSW. 

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

Dr Rebecca Coates, Director of SAM says, “Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul has been a triumph. We have received wonderful feedback from visitors both locally and nationally about the importance of bringing major exhibitions of this nature to our regional audiences.”

Unique to the Shepparton viewing of this show is the accompanying exhibition The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery, a SAM curated exhibition that showcases significant ceramic works by the extended Boyd family held in the SAM collection. The presentation of these two collections together provides great insight into the Boyd family legacy.

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.

 Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul

A Bundanon Trust touring exhibition

Until 24 November 2019

The Boyd Family: A Legacy of Pottery

A SAM curated exhibition with works from the SAM collection

Until 1 March 2020

Applications closing for regional artists solo exhibition at SAM

Regional Victorian artists have one week left to get their applications in to exhibit their art at the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) in March 2020.

Following on from the success of previous years, SAM will again go local in March 2020, and is seeking applications from talented local artists for the opportunity to exhibit their work in a solo exhibition.

Proposals will be accepted from artists living in or originally from North Central and North East regional Victoria and maintain strong connections within these locations.

SAM Curator, Lara Merrington says, “SAM Local Spotlight is an exciting, profile-raising opportunity for a regional artist. The aim of the exhibition is to encourage, inspire and promote local and regional cultural activities in our community, and provides a great opportunity to gain professional experience working in an art museum context.”

Previous SAM Local Spotlight artist Maree Santilla encourages any artist considering applying to give it a go. “The opportunity and support provided by SAM Local has helped me gain the confidence to apply for further opportunities to exhibit and develop my arts practice. SAM’s curatorial input presented new possibilities in how I might edit my work for a space and distil a focus conceptually. Subsequently, I am able to take that learning experience and integrate it into future exhibitions,” says Santilla.

For further information on how to apply to become the SAM Local Spotlight artist in March 2020, visit SAM’s website

Submissions for SAM Local Spotlight are open now and will close on Monday 25 November, at 5pm.

Should you have specific questions about the exhibition, artists can discuss with SAM’s Curator Lara Merrington on (03) 5832 9893. All applicants will be advised on selection by 29 November 2019, and an announcement will be made on the SAM website.