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Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Event: -
Last chance to see this huge exhibition
The Art Gallery of SA is currently hosting a massive art exhibition, but you better be quick as it is closing on August 30th. Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices presents the huge artistic and cultural interactions between Europe and Asia from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries - a period known as the Age of Spices.

In search of art and spices
In search of art and spices

This is more like five exhibitions in one. It definitely takes more than one viewing to absorb everything. The complex links between cultures, history, transportation, religious customs and exploration are all melded into these spaces. There are 300 outstanding and rarely-seen works of ceramics, decorative arts, furniture, metalware, paintings, prints and textiles from public and private collections in Australia, India, Portugal, Singapore and the United States.

Reliquary Cross of St Francis, First half of the 17th century, silver, detail of base of cross
Reliquary Cross of St Francis, First half of the 17th century, silver, detail of base of cross

Curator talks have been held each Tuesday at 12.30pm in the exhibition. Each has focused on specific areas of interest. Topics have included Mapping of the Earth, Chinoiserie, Early images of Australia and many more. These talks are free with the exhibition ticket.

First Catch by John Lewin 1813 Sydney
First Catch by John Lewin 1813 Sydney

This exhibition looks back to a time when Australia was just a squiggle on the map with the title of 'beach'. Yes, we were a land labeled beach. But I digress, in wandering through the Art of Spices, the viewers perspective of history is inadequate. Each time I have visited this expose of culture and history, I have discovered so much about how the world came to be the way it was, such as, east meeting west, the spice trade, explorations and politics, food and decorations and faith and fascinations.

Head of Christ, 17th Century, Goa, India
Head of Christ, 17th Century, Goa, India

There is exquisite Christian artwork created at ports such as Goa and Nagasaki on loan from Portugal and India, as well as the inclusion of two works from the personal collection of Queen Adelaide (1792-1849) after whom the city of Adelaide is named. This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Now showing until 30 August 2015
Now showing until 30 August 2015

My main criticism of the exhibition is that perhaps it is too wide in scope. Any number of directions outlined in this exhibition could have been a stand alone subject. The cartography (maps), the spices, the ceramics, the religious imagery and mission and the list goes on. This is an opportunity to explore the world when discoveries were always on the horizon. But remember to get there before August 30th. It is unlikely something as comprehensive and far reaching will be staged for some time.

This is a ticketed event. Ticket prices are listed here:
Tickets can be purchased online* or in person at the Art Gallery
Adult $15
Concession (Australian pensioner concession, seniors card) $12
Gallery Members $10
Gallery Members Season Ticket $40
Family (2 Adults and up to 3 children aged 512) $35
Student (13 years and over) $10
Child (512 years) $5
Child (0 4 years) Free
Online booking fee of $2.50 per transaction applies

Navigators Studio
The exhibition has inspired the Studio space with themes of Treasure Maps and Ancient Spices. Check out the Navigators Studio here
This is a free space and big kids like it too.

Treasure Ships, Art in the Age of Spices showing until 30 August 2015
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Why? Last Chance to see this huge exhibition
When: Until August 30th. Open every day 10am to 5pm.
Where: Art gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Cost: Tickets can be purchased online* or in person at the Art Gallery Adult $15 Concession (Australian pensioner concession, seniors card) $12 Gallery Members $10 Gallery Members Season Ticket $40 Family (2 Adults and up to 3 children aged 512) $35 Stude
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