11 March 2022
Shepparton Art Museum debuts Art in Conflict alongside solo exhibition by acclaimed Pakistani-born, Melbourne-based artist, Nusra Latif Qureshi and a celebration of local art in SAM Open 2022.
Three unique and timely exhibitions are opening at Shepparton Art Museum this March.
SAM is the first venue for a new exhibition by the Australian War Memorial, Art in Conflict (26 March – 31 July), which will tour around Australia in coming years. Showcasing the works of official war artists and contemporary artists who respond to conflict, the timely exhibition explores the unique ways in which art can deepen our understanding of Australia’s experience of conflict, prompting us to think through global issues from a local lens.
SAM’s Acting Artistic Director and Senior Curator, Dr Shelley McSpedden says:
“The Shepparton Art Museum is proud to be the first venue for the Australian War Memorial’s national tour of Art in Conflict and the only Victorian location to host the exhibition. This incredible exhibition brings together new works by some of Australia’s most innovative and celebrated contemporary artists, and its themes are enormously relevant to our local community. The Goulburn Valley has a rich military history, with WWII internment and POW camps in Murchison and the Mooroopna War Memorial acknowledging the service of Aboriginal soldiers in global conflicts. Shepparton and surrounding areas are home to many families fleeing war-torn counties both now and post WWII. Art in Conflict is an opportunity for the Shepparton Art Museum to connect with local histories that make this region unique, and for the community to gather and reflect on these histories.”
The exhibition sees three recently-commissioned bodies of work by the Australian War Memorial, two by official war artists Megan Cope and Susan Norrie , and one by renowned video artist, Angelica Mesiti.
Stationed across the Middle East as part of peacekeeping operations in 2017, Quandamooka woman Megan Cope was the first female Indigenous official war artist. Known for her work in reinterpreting topographies of contested lands, her body of work in the exhibition overlays maps with symbols and patterns to explore natural resources, battle lines and geographical markers that impact on the ways in which conflicts unfold.
Susan Norrie was deployed to Iraq in 2016. Stationed at Camp Taji to the north of Baghdad, the artist was there at a time of heightened Iraqi/Daesh conflict. In the resulting video work, Spheres of Influence (2016-19), the artist flits between footage taken during her time at Camp Taji and later at the Palace of Versailles in France. She depicts everyday life of the soldiers at the Camp, and uses the voice of Iraqi poet, dissident and former Iraqi Army veteran, Salah Al-Hamdani, who details his personal experience at Camp Taji in the 1960s and his interpretation of the contested histories of the Middle East.
Angelica Mesiti is known for her dynamic video works, often using visuals and sound rather than dialogue to create new narratives. Her work A Hundred Years (2019-20) was commissioned by the Memorial to interpret the legacy of the Western Front; in it, the artist makes a correlation between the bodies lost at war and the impact on our natural environment.
Of this exhibition, Laura Webster, Head of Art, Australian War Memorial says:
This is a landmark exhibition for the Memorial as it showcases almost 15 years of contemporary Australian art and artists’ diverse responses to conflict. This is the first time that even staff have had an opportunity to view these works on display together and we’re especially excited to partner with SAM and debut these important new commissions in Shepparton’s beautiful new galleries. Megan Cope, Susan Norrie and Angelica Mesiti each continue the tradition of art at the Memorial - to record and interpret the Australian experience of conflict – but they bring to it a conceptual rigour and breadth of understanding. They go beyond documentary to interpret globalised conflicts and invite us to understand different perspectives on these complex histories.
Also featured in Art in Conflict are leading Australian artists Khadim Ali, Rushdi Anwar, eX de Medici, Denise Green, Richard Lewer, Mike Parr and Ben Quilty, alongside works by renowned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists—a collection priority for the Memorial in recent years—including Tony Albert, Paddy Bedford, Robert Campbell Jr, Michael Cook, Shirley Macnamara and Betty Muffler.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public programs, including a community forum, artist talks and curatorial floor talks. Art in Conflict brings light to the untold stories and neglected histories tied to conflict from an Australian perspective. Art in Conflict is an Australian War Memorial exhibition supported by research from an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project.
Art in Conflict officially opens Saturday 26 March with a Yorta Yorta Welcome to Country, and a talk between artists Megan Cope and Susan Norrie and Head of Art, Australian War Memorial – Laura Webster.
Also opening on Saturday 26 March will be SAM’s next Window commission by Melbourne-based artist Nusra Latif Qureshi, who is presenting a new installation, The Land I See Is Not Elsewhere (26 March – 31 July). Trained in Mughal miniature painting in Lahore, Pakistan, the artist has a rich and contemporary visual language that encompasses mediums from delicate paintings to large-scale digital prints. Her practice often references the female body, South Asian histories and Australian cultures. Qureshi is influenced by imagery including colonial photography, botanical paintings and patterns from textiles, often adapting these and overlapping them in her complex yet delicate works.
The Land I See Is Not Elsewhere questions the histories and legacies of painting and representation of land in Australia, as much as it pays tribute to the local landscape. The multifaceted installation reflects on the environmental surrounds of Shepparton and references the history of Australian landscape painting, with a specific nod to SAM’s large holdings of watercolour landscapes by Albert Namatjira and the extended Hermannsburg School.
As part of Shepparton Art Museum’s commitment to its local communities, SAM Open 2022 (19 March – 12 June) brings together the works of artists from Greater Shepparton, the Goulburn Valley and the Hume Region. This annual all-ages exhibition celebrates and showcases the creativity of the region and includes works across many mediums and by artists of different skill levels and career stages. Curated from an open call, the theme for this year’s exhibition is ‘New Horizons’ – a beacon of hope after the challenges of the past two years.
Curated by SAM Exhibitions Curator, Jessica O’Farrell, SAM Open 2022 brings to light artistic work from northern Victoria for audiences from across the country. The exhibition supports artists to create connections not only locally, but nationally, and advances the skills of the artists and the creative reputation of Greater Shepparton, the Goulburn Valley and the Hume. Jessica O’Farrell says that:
“SAM Open 2022 is the first exhibition of our new SAM SQUARED program, which celebrates local creativity all year round. Having a new dedicated community gallery space at SAM reflects our commitment to giving our wonderful and talented local creatives a place to continually share their work locally and to connect with audiences nationally. By setting the theme of New Horizons, we wanted to mark this moment of opportunity for local artists to present their work in this fantastic new museum.”
Artists include Robbie Bechaz, Gregory Beckenham, Christine Broersen, Rick Brun, Ann Cremean, Wendy D’Amore, Rachel Doller, Beverley Dowd, Jayden Doyle, Brittany Drysdale, Rebecca Fortin, Abby Fortin, Lorinda Freeman, Jeanette Fry, Kerry Handwerk, Amanda Hocking, Marion Langford, John Lawler, Jodi Lewis, Glenda Mackay, Phyllis Mactier, Anne Mawson, Ari Mazurczuk, Lesley McLellan, Julie Mercer, Jan Molluso, Joan Mullarvey, Sharon O’Keeffe, Julie Oldfield, Kat Parker, Ivy Patone, Lyn Patone, Kaio Portsmouth, Judith Roberts, Carmel Robertson, Valerie Rokahr, Garry Salau, Megan Walker and Nikki Young.
Upcoming Public Programs:
Tuesday 15 March
12.30pm- Community Forum: Art in Conflict
Online via Zoom
Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 March – Opening weekend Celebrations at SAM
Saturday 26 March
11am- SAM Talks: with Megan Cope and Susan Norrie
1pm- Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country
1.30pm- Official Opening – Art in Conflict, SAM Open and The Land I See Is Not Elsewhere
2.30pm- Viewing of the artwork “Heroes” by Köken Ergun
4pm: SAM Talks- SAM Open with Exhibitions Curator Jessica O’Farrell
Sunday 27 March
11am: SAM Talks- Curatorial floor talk with curators from the Australian War Memorial
12pm – 2pm- SAM Talks: A hundred years with Angelica Mesiti, recorded in conversation with SAM
Media enquiries, please contact: Gabriella Calandro, Engagement Manager, SAM
p: (03) 4804 5020