Being a garden fanatic I’m liable to find fascinating and delightful things wherever I travel. So it was in Newcastle recently, when my sister urged me to see the exhibition showing at Newcastle Region Art Gallery, titled “FLORIBUNDA: from the collection”.
Margaret Olley’s vivid cornflowers and marigolds.
What a treat it was! A whole exhibition dedicated to flowers, some by Australia’s most revered artists- who could ask for more?
“Sospire” by Elisabeth Kruger, 2007, oil on linen
I took photos in gallery conditions, because I couldn’t resist the temptation. Please forgive the white spots on many of the photos which are the gallery lights reflecting off the glass. In reality, all these art works are much more marvellous than what you see depicted here.
Detail from “Western Australian wildflowers” by Ellis Rowan, 1879, watercolour on paper
In italics below is some information about the exhibition, reproduced from the gallery’s website at http://nag.org.au/Exhibitions/Current/FLORIBUNDA-from-the-collection
Red waratahs adorn the Society of Artists signboard by Arthur Streeton, 1895, oil on Australian red cedar
“Floribunda features diverse works of art drawn exclusively from the Newcastle Art Gallery collection across mediums such as drawing, painting, photography and sculpture by practitioners dating from the 1800s to the present day.
Detail from “Bombe (Cape Bulbs)” by Robyn Stace, 2009, Type C print on paper
Latin for ‘many flowers’ Floribunda is an exhibition that also represents contemporary practitioners who are drawn to flora as an allegory for broader concerns; including birth, death, sex, the environment and connection to Country.
“Another rest after the rise (rose)” by Paul White, 2014, coloured pencil on paper
In the Golden Age of Dutch painting still life works of art from the 17th century used elements such as flowers, skulls and decaying fruit as abundant and visceral symbols of the fragility of life, representing ideas of Vanitas and Memento Mori.
Detail from “Lilies and lemons with Nonya vase” by Cressida Campbell, 2006, unique woodblock print
WB Gould and Tom Roberts’ works of art in the Newcastle Art Gallery collection reference this art history canon...
“Roses” by Tom Roberts, 1888, oil on canvas on plywood
…as does contemporary New Zealand artist Peter Madden with his blooms ‘exploding’ from a walking stick.
Detail from “Autumn” by Peter Madden, 2013, paper, wood, wire and baked clay
Also exhibited are delicate works on paper by Margaret Preston, Ellis Rowan, Thea Proctor and new acquisitions by contemporary photographer Tamara Dean, repositioning traditional notions of the nude and floral in art.
“Flowers in jug (jug of flowers)” by Margaret Preston, 1929, hand coloured woodcut on rice paper
This free exhibition runs until 28 April 2019. The gallery is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, and 7 days a week during school holidays.
“Australian native flowers” by Margaret Preston, 1933, hand coloured woodcut
My absolute favourites in the exhibitions were three intaglio etchings by Fiona Hall- “Brachychiton- Nanunggawa“, “Fan Palm- Dhalpi” and “Mangrove- Walmu“, dated 2010. Their delicate, haunting beauty is such that I am reluctant to upload my photographs as they don’t do justice to these extraordinarily lovely works. I’ve risked showing a little snapshot below, but you must see the real thing at the exhibition, if you can.