A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?
To misquote Monty Python: 'what have the Scots ever done for us'? Well quite a lot it seems! It's not surprising really, when you realise that in the 2011 census, 8.9% of Australia's total population claimed Scottish heritage, either alone or in combination with another ancestry, making it our fourth most commonly nominated ancestry.
To celebrate the contribution the Scots have made in Australia's development, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is hosting an exhibition entitled 'For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation'. The exhibition, which runs from 11th April to 27th July 2014, takes the viewer on a journey from the earliest days of white settlement in Australia, delving into details such as fashion, sport, high art and whisky and bringing all manner of curious stories to the surface.
You will discover a range of little known facts about the Scottish influence in Australia. For example, did you know that the wine industry in Australia was founded by the Scot James Busby? Or did you know that Australia's first Catholic saint Mary Mackillop was a Scottish Gaelic speaker having been taught the language at home in Melbourne in the 1840's by her father?
You may already know that 'Auld Lang Syne' is a Scottish term, taken from the name of a poem by Scot Robert Burns. The literal English translation is 'old long since'; perhaps we might interpret it as 'days gone by', or 'days long ago'. Whichever is correct, it is a recognition of times past and longstanding friendships, which is why it is sometimes sung at midnight on New Year's Eve. Given the meaning and origin of 'Auld Lang Syne', it is therefore a most appropriate title for this exhibition. Described as a 'large and complex art exhibition that brings together artworks and objects from across the country and beyond', the exhibition celebrates the unique contribution of Scots to the cultural, social and political development of Australia during its formative years.
By drawing together the extraordinary story of Scottish Australia through various forms of rich visual heritage, including objects and artworks from national, state and regional collections and from private collectors, the exhibition will enhance our understanding of our cultural inheritance from the Scots people.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue which will include essays by leading scholars on aspects of the Scottish presence in Australia. There will also be a comprehensive schedule of public and education programs.
There are many other reasons why it's worth scheduling a visit to the Art Gallery of Ballarat. The Gallery building is living history, as it is the oldest and largest regional art gallery in Australia. The Gallery was established in 1884. Notably, the Gallery formerly housed the original Eureka Flag, the 'war flag' of the Eureka Rebellion of 1854 which was flying at the battle of the Eureka Stockade (at Bakery Hill in Ballarat) during which 22 people died. (The Flag is, however, now on long term loan to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.)
The Gallery also houses an impressive permanent exhibition of Australian and international artists, as well as a rare books collection.
One of the works in the Gallery's collection: 'One of the falls at the Wannon' (Louis Buvelot, 1872)
If you need a break while at the Gallery, there is a cafe on site, serving food made from locally sourced ingredients, as well as coffee and chocolates.
Visitors to this exhibition might also be interested to visit Villa Alba Museum in Kew which was built by the Edinburgh-born William Greenlaw c. 1884.
The notable decorations were done by the Scottish- trained Paterson Brothers and include an eclectic mixture of painted, stencilled and gilded decoration and feature a 40 foot painted mural of Edinburgh and a dining room frieze decorated with scenes from the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Open Days are on the first Sunday of the month from 1-4pm. See website for detailshttp://www.villaalbamuseum.org/