From photography, painting, glass, sculpture, ceramics, street art and everything in between, Canberra and the South Coast’s thriving and incredibly impressive art scene offers so much to see all year round, and there are some great exhibitions happening this spring. Here’s your guide to local art and what’s on this season.
Photography by Ari He
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
The National Portrait Gallery is home to an inspiring collection of portraits of the many prominent individuals who have inspired and shaped the fabric of Australian society. This spring, the National Photographic Portrait Prize returns until 2 October with its annual exhibition showcasing 47 of the nation’s best examples of photographic portraiture from a pool of almost 2,400 entries. While you’re visiting, be sure to take in the building itself, especially if you’re a lover of architecture and sculpture. The award-winning construction features striking cantilever concrete blades, strips of stone and timber from each Australian state and territory, and a symbolic design that represents the relationship between the visitor, space, material, light and art.
Canberra Glassworks is Australia’s leading centre for contemporary glass art, craft and design, located in the historic Kingston Power House near the Kingston Foreshore. This spring you can watch glass blowing as it happens and appreciate the skill and precision of the glass artists as they create their masterpieces. Until 8 October, you can explore the works of Lisa Sammut who combines a wide range of media in her practice, including sculpture, light, video and installation. Also until 8 October, admire the pieces of contemporary jeweller and artist, Zoe Brand, known for her use of text, often repurposing plastic and reclaimed materials.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA
The National Gallery of Australia is home to over 155,000 works created by more than 15,000 artists from across the world, and holds the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. This spring, head to the gallery to see the Know My Name: Making It Modern exhibition that celebrates pioneering women artists who changed the course of modern art in Australia, which runs until 8 October. Also at the gallery until January 2024 is Nan Goldin’s 126 photograph collection from the 1980s, a documentary-style exhibition of her life, friends and lovers in New York – a snapshot in time and a testament to a community decimated by HIV/AIDS and drug-related deaths. You’ll also find South Korean artist, Haegue Yang’s sculpture exhibition running until 15 October, featuring four large works that evoke the notion of migration between locations. While you’re there, don’t forget the Sculpture Garden situated along the grounds that lie between the building and the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Here you’ll find 26 sculptures made by international and Australian artists, including the evocative fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya, the Pukamani burial poles, Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, and Tracey Emin’s large-scale bronze sculpture, When I sleep.
Photography by Vlad Bunu
Set in a converted 1920s homestead on 9.5 hectares in North Canberra, Strathnairn Arts is a gallery and not-for-profit association that provides working spaces, studios and facilities for a range of artists, crafts people and local community groups. Strathnairn Arts remains one of Canberra’s best-kept secrets, showcasing the works of artists across various mediums, including glass, ceramics, works on paper, painting, sculpture, textile, stone, wood, jewellery and mixed media. If you’re looking for a gift or a special piece of art for your home, then visit their shop where you’ll find high-quality and original art and craft pieces made by the association’s members.
Canberra is full of incredibly colourful and diverse street art, with hundreds of masterpieces peppered across the territory from the north to the south on school buildings, sports sheds, water pump stations, electrical boxes, shipping containers, bridges and tunnels. This spring, head outside and appreciate the art for yourself, especially the striking murals of local artist Geoff Filmer, a.k.a GraffikPaint, which are absolutely everywhere. If you’re not sure where to start, visit the Street Art Cities website for a suburb-to-suburb look of where you can find some of the city’s immense talent for yourself.
Photography by Avi Richards
NSW South Coast
RIVER OF ART FESTIVAL
From 15-24 September, immerse yourself in the arts at the River of Art Festival. Now in its 18th year, this 10-day festival is set to host more than 100 events across 100 kilometres of coastline. The festival is a true celebration of the arts along the NSW South Coast, and offers a programme brimming with performances, exhibitions, open studios, workshops and demonstrations. If you only do one thing this spring, then this is it.
Indira Carmichael is a multi-disciplinary artist living along the NSW South Coast. Her impressive body of work covers photography, portraiture, line drawing, sculpture, textiles and mixed media. She has spent over 30 years in the arts industry as a visual and performing artist, educator and arts administrator. Her art can be found in spaces around the Eurobodalla Shire that have served as inspiration for her work.
The South Coast is full of incredibly colourful and diverse street art, with masterpieces featuring on buildings, walls and public spaces all across the region. This spring, head outside and appreciate the art for yourself, especially the intricate mural on the Bermagui water tank. Reproduced from an original piece of art, this award-winning mural titled Spirit Dance was painted by Indigenous artist Joe McKenzie. Another piece of street art not to miss is the striking mural along the wall of Moruya’s North and Perry streets, painted by well-known artist Happy Decay. Other examples of must-see local street art can be found at the eastern lane way of the Promenade Plaza in Batemans Bay, the Moruya Pharmacy, the Lighthouse Surgery in Narooma, and the public amenity block at Quota Park, Woogonga Inlet in Narooma.
AROUND ART STUDIO AND GALLERY
The Around Art Studio and Gallery is located on five acres of beautiful gardens in Malua Bay and holds an eclectic collection of works by local artist Margaret Allen. Margaret creates art across a range of mediums and styles from traditional to abstract, and is best known for Australian landscapes, still life and portraits. Margaret’s studio gallery is open by appointment or when the sign is displayed.
MARKET GALLERY ON EDWARD
This spring be sure to check out the popular Market Gallery on Edward located in Batehaven. This eclectic gallery space is a co-operative venture of local artists showcasing their unique and creative works, including painting, sculpture, jewellery and handmade items inspired by the surrounding Eurobodalla region.
Photography by Clement Philip
If you want to see some impressive art this spring, then be sure to add the Mogo Collective to your list. This community co-working space is located in the heart of town and is full of creative works and handmade treasures made by local artisans. This great space displays a huge range of paintings, photography, sculpture, wood and metal work, textiles, jewellery, Indigenous handicrafts, and more.
GRACE PALEG STUDIO GALLERY
Grace Peleg is an award-winning pastel artist located in Surf Beach. She has over 50 years’ experience and has created over 300 commissioned portraits as well as life drawing, landscape and still life. This spring, you can visit her wonderful studio and admire her work, or if you’re interested in refining your painting and drawing skills, or just learning more about contour, form, tone and colour, then try one of Grace’s Monday group classes, or book a private weekday lesson.
The Sydney St Gallery in Mogo is one of the go-to galleries along the NSW South Coast. Opened in 1988 by pastel artist Lee Miller, this fantastic gallery space is now home to the works of local artist Purusha who has been painting in oils for over 40 years. The gallery is also home to the work of renowned glass artist Tony Trivett, the leatherwork of Jenny Roses, and Lee Honey’s incredible collages.
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