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Beating about the Bush Art & Photography Exhibition

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
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A New Lens on Australian Impressionism
The Art Gallery of Ballarat has an upcoming exhibition with a difference - a clever conjunction of paintings by Australian Impressionist artists paired with works by leading contemporary Australian female photographers. The aim is to challenge the viewer's understanding of the Australian landscape, and the perceptions behind the myths that have shaped our nation.

Beating about the Bush - Art & Photography Exhibition at Art Gallery of Ballarat
Beating about the Bush is an exhibition showing at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until 19 February 2023


The Gallery holds one of the most significant collections of artworks created by Australian Impressionist (Heidelberg School) artists and other Australian artists of that era, and you can expect to see the works of such celebrated artists as Tom Roberts, Charles Conder, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, Jane Sutherland and Clara Southern.

Beating about the Bush - Art & Photography Exhibition at Art Gallery of Ballarat
Emmanuel Phillips Fox 'A love story' (1903), oil on canvas. (Purchased with funds from the Pinkerton Bequest, 1944, frame conserved with funds donated by McCain Foods (Aust), 2010.)


Women photographers, including Anne Zahalka, Leah King-Smith, Fiona Foley, Nici Cumpston, Polixeni Papapetrou, Jane Burton, Jacqui Stockdale, Siri Hayes, Nicole Welch, Tamara Dean, Peta Clancy, Jill Orr, Robyn Stacey, Janet Laurence, Hayley Millar-Baker and Maree Clarke will present a different perspective, with their collective body of work providing a contemporary view of what it means to be Australian.

Gallery Director Louise Tegart, who has curated the exhibition, says:

"Beating About The Bush brings together historical and contemporary perspectives to challenge and extend our understanding of the Australian landscape and the perceptions behind the myths that shaped our nation.

"The Australian Impressionists were criticised by artist and writer Ian Burn in his essay Beating About the Bush for creating romanticised images of the bush and its people, viewing them from the leisurely gaze of upper-middle class men whose imaginations did not really address the role of women, the precarious existence in the face of poverty, bushfire and drought, and the place of Aboriginal people in the bush.

"As well as giving due recognition to the work of women artists of the Australian Impressionist era, this exhibition explores what has been left out of the Australian Impressionist paintings, allowing contemporary female photographers to put these elements back in the picture. These artists don't beat about the bush they tell a more comprehensive story, addressing issues pertaining to immigration, First Nations people, gender and social status.

"The exhibition not only explores the Gallery's significant Collection and long history, it also highlights the Gallery's practice of looking for thematic connections between old and new works in the Collection, allowing audiences to examine them from a fresh perspective, or in this case, with a new lens."

Beating about the Bush - Art & Photography Exhibition at Art Gallery of Ballarat
Anna Zahalk 'The immigrants' 1983 Collage


There will also be a public program around the exhibition.

From 2pm - 3pm on Saturday 12th November Gallery Director Louise Tegart will give a curator talk on this significant exhibition. This event is free but ticketed.

Click here for more information and to secure your ticket.

From 2pm - 3pm on Sunday 13th and 27th November, local performers Jane Gaylor, Hedley Thomson and Peter Vanderkley will explore a selection of Henry Lawson's work in The Many Faces of Henry Lawson: Beating about the Bush Readings. A celebration of the 100th year since the death of Lawson, the two separate programs will involve readings from the works of the celebrated poet, short-story writer and journalist. Again, this event is free but ticketed, so please reserve your place here.

Beating about the Bush - Art & Photography Exhibition at Art Gallery of Ballarat
Jacqui Stockdale 'Man of Quinn' 2015 Type C print


At 6pm on Saturday 19th November, you get the opportunity to dine along side some of the key female photographers whose works feature in the exhibition in the Beating about the Bush Artists' Dinner. Tickets are $254, which includes canapes on arrival and a three-course dinner with matched drinks. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Beating about the Bush will exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard St N, Ballarat Central, from 5th November 2022 to 19th February 2023.

Art Gallery of Ballarat is open every day from 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day).

Entry is FREE.

Free guided tours run every day at 11am. Numbers are restricted, and it's 'first in best dressed'.

If you have any queries, please click here to go to the website, or call the gallery (03) 5320 5858.

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Why? A curated selection of contrasting works that give a new perspective on what it means to be 'Australian'.
When: Open 10am to 5pm daily, (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Exhibition runs from 5 November 2022 - 19 February 2023
Phone: (03) 5320 5858
Where: Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard St N, Central Ballarat
Cost: FREE
Your Comment
Thanks for the article Fiona. This looks amazing.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10397) 96 days ago
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