Flow: Stories of River, Earth and Sky

Stories of River, Earth and Sky in the SAM Collection

Flow: Stories of River, Earth and Sky in the SAM Collection explores the narratives we weave through the places we inhabit, and the myriad ways in which nature shapes our lives and culture. Drawn from the Shepparton Art Museum Collection, the exhibition features the artwork of over 60 artists from the 1800s to now, and presents a number of recent acquisitions for the first time, including works from the Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner Collection of Australian Indigenous Art.

Susan Norrie, Imagining a Future, 2019, Shepparton Art Museum Collection, purchased with the assistance of the Friends of Shepparton Art Museum, 2019.
© Courtesy of the artist

Shepparton’s people, culture and commerce have evolved around water, and been sustained by it over generations. Its lifeforce courses through the fertile lands of the Goulburn Valley, under expansive skies. The Kaiela (Goulburn River) and Broken Rivers weave across the Goulburn floodplain, while the great Dungala (Murray River) surges to our north. This exhibition celebrates nature’s power to nourish, inspire and offer solace. It features artworks and narratives from our local context, connecting us with stories and people from other regions across the country.

Change is nature’s only constant. Where once we marked out four European seasons, today we talk about cycles of change throughout a year, marked by subtle shifts, including the flowering of golden wattle and hint of warmth, fruit trees in blossom, or a river in flood. These changes mark times of abundance, times to gather, or the atmospheric changes marked by river mists and winter floods. Flow offers insights into the evolution and transformation of SAM’s Collection over time, allowing new patterns and fresh ways of understanding to emerge.

Ian W. Abdulla, Ngarrindjeri, At 15 years old I knew the River Murray well even then I liked the old time songs as sparrow in the tree tops and Kaysara as I walked along the River at night, 2003, Shepparton Art Museum Collection, purchased with the assistance of Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner, 2017 © the artist’s estate, licensed by Copyright Agency

Local Aboriginal histories and ancient knowledge systems are foregrounded, offering rich reflections on our understanding and connection with nature over tens of thousands of years. The work of South-East Aboriginal artists is located within a broader First Nations Australian context. Significant works from Hermannsburg and Tiwi Islands artists are welcomed and publically exhibited here for the first time. Unorthodox constellations of artworks bring together different genres and historical periods. Iconic Australian Impressionist and Modernists artworks are coupled with bold, experimental works by living artists. These make space for new readings, rethought histories, reconsidered wisdoms, and new insights relevant to our times.    

Artists: Ian Abdulla, Jack Anselmi and Cynthia Hardie, Illortaminni Mick Aruni, Glenn Barkley, Rex Battarbee, Clarice Beckett, Don Briggs, Vera Cooper, Grace Cossington Smith, Cordula Ebatarinja, Walter Ebatarinja, Ian Fairweather, Leonard French, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Eugene von Guérard, Tiempi Paddy Henry, Philip Hunter, Gerhard Inkamala, Kathy Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James, Kitty Kantilla, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Benjamin Landara Ebatarinja, Richard Lewer and Felicity Law, Sydney Long, Sir John Longstaff, Hayley Millar-Baker, Allan Mitelman, Richard Moketarinja, Albert Namatjira, Enos Namatjira, Ewald Namatjira, Gabriel Namatjira, Keith Namatjira, Lenie Namatjira, Maurice Namatjira, Oscar Namatjira, Reggie Namatjira, Vincent Namatjira, Susan Norrie, Lin Onus, Gloria Pannka, Edwin Pareroultja, Hubert Pareroultja, Ivy Pareroultja, Otto Pareroultja, Margaret Preston, Brenton Raberaba, Henoch Raberaba, Herbert Raberaba, John Rowell, Athanasius Renkaraka, Mervyn Rubuntja, Yhonnie Scarce, Simone Slee, Yasmin Smith, Sir Arthur Streeton, Tony Tuckson, Mickey Geranium Warlapinni, Judy Watson, Elton Wirri and Kapiti Sugarbag Wonaeamirri.


Curators: Rebecca Coates, Artistic Director and CEO and Shelley McSpedden, Senior Curator


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Location: Lin Onus Gallery

Free