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Published July 7th 2014
The best art is out of town
Source MPRG Facebook: Sea of dreams: Port Phillip Bay 1915-2013 opening
While Melbourne has the famous NGV there are over twenty galleries in regional Victoria. Many have such important exhibitions that people drive miles to see them and so they should.
First off and close into Melbourne is the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG). It is one of Australia's leading regional galleries. It has an outstanding collection of works by Australian artists such as Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker, Margaret Preston and John Brack. The gallery is renowned for its mini-blockbusters it also hosts the highly popular Archibald Prize exhibition, (portraits of a who's who of Australian culture – from politicians to celebrities) that attracted more than 40 000 people in four weeks in 2013 and is likely to do the same again later this year. For more information click here.
Source: Tarrawarra Museum of Art
Tarrawarra Museum of Art in the verdant Yarra Valley wine region just celebrated its 10th year. It is in a stunning award winning building by architect Allan Powell with curved fortress like walls and sweeping views over the surrounding vineyards. Founders Eva and Marc Besen, began collecting artwork in the 1950s and often draw exhibitions from their massive private collection. For more information click here.
Bumper crowds for exhibitions. Source: Bendigo Gallery Facebook
Director of the Bendigo Art Gallery, Karen Quinlan once worked in the fashion and textile department at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). You can see this flare for fashion in many of the exhibitions she has previously organised such as The Golden Age of Couture (2008-09) and The White Wedding Dress: 200 years of wedding fashions (2011).
Hot on the train of these successes came her blockbuster Grace Kelly: Style Icon that raised $16 million in tourism revenue for the city of Bendigo. Exhibitions on now or later this year include Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion, a collection of 80 pieces from London's V&A collection including a peek at Queen Victoria's undergarments! Well worth the visit. Take the train and stay at the new Art Series Hotel which has special package including entry to the gallery. Click here.
Ballarat Art Gallery (1884) is Australia's oldest regional gallery and attracts record numbers of crowds. With its sweeping Victorian staircase, polished floors and palatial rooms this Ballarat gallery has long been the crown on the area known as the Golden Triangle. As well as owning a number of significant works relating to the area's goldfields history it is the traditional home to the Eureka flag (on loan at present) the symbol of resistance for the gold miners during the Eureka Stockade Rebellion of 1854. This grand gallery also has an interesting display which is the fully furnished parlour of the Lindsay family who grew up in nearby Creswick. Five of the ten Lindsay children became significant artists including the notorious bohemian Norman Lindsay and his brother Daryl who became a Director of the NGV. For details of what to do in Ballarat click here. Down the road there is a great high tea at Craig's Hotel.
Benalla Art Gallery has a number of Australian paintings relating to its local bushranger history including a tapestry of Sidney Nolan's Glenrowan, from his Ned Kelly series. The Albury Regional Art Gallery claims a special relationship with Russell Drysdale who managed a friend's shearing property in the region in the 1940s. The exhibition Drawing on Drysdale has not only been shown in Albury but toured the country.
Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is another regional art gallery enjoying a renaissance. Arts patron Carrillo Gantner (a member of the Myer family) recently donated significant works from his multimillion-dollar indigenous art collection to the gallery including works by Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus and the Namatjira family.
He chose Shepparton over Melbourne because of a property he owns in the region and his affinity with local Kooris. Shepparton has Victoria's largest indigenous community outside Melbourne. For things to do in Shepparton click here.
Like the Bendigo and Ballarat regional galleries SAM has also pursued internationally significant exhibitions. In 2013 Gallery Director, Kirsten Paisley secured the acclaimed collection of traditional Japanese prints The Golden Age of Colour Prints: Ukiyo-e from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a museum that owns one of the world's most significant collections of Japanese prints.
So take your pick as art abounds in regional Victoria and there are so many fascinating galleries to visit. Get in the car and take a visit.