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Abstraction: celebrating Australian women abstract artists
Friday 2 March, 2018 to Sunday 20 May, 2018
The Temporary Exhibitions Gallery

A National Gallery of Australia Exhibition

“Realistic painting has proved to be a blind alley. We have reached the end of that alley, and been obliged to turn around and retrace our steps. Now we have started on the new track, and already find it rich in new discoveries.” Dorrit Black, 16 March 1932

Abstraction is one of the most influential developments in art history. Evolving from avant-garde movements in Europe at the close of the nineteenth century, it has continued to flourish through to contemporary times. Women artists have been at the forefront of its development and yet, until recently, their contribution has been obscured from the art-historical narrative. This exhibition resurrects and examines the myriad of ways that Australian women artists have championed abstraction and kept it alive in the twenty-first century.

In Australia, it was progressive modernist women in the 1920s who were the chief protagonists in the opening up of avant-garde practices to artists at home, directing taste away from a growing conservatism and dominance of landscape and portraiture traditions. When the world turned decidedly modern at the outbreak of the First World War, it was largely women artists who embraced cubism and abstraction as a new path for Australian art. Importantly, they brought back the theories and practices they had learnt from masters in Paris and London to Australia.

By the 1950s, artists turned away from Europe towards America where they fell under the spell of Abstract Expressionism, and later geometric abstraction, minimalism and optical art. The importance of Indigenous women artists to the development of abstraction in Australia cannot be underestimated. Through her exuberant fields of colour painted on heroic scale, Emily Kame Kngwarreye opened up abstraction and gestural non-figuration to wider audiences. Today contemporary women artists are finding new pathways in abstraction and continuing the legacy of the early pioneering modernist women who came before them.

Dorrit Black
Provençale farmhouse 1928
oil on canvas on cardboard
36.8 × 47.6 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 2014

Zoonoses - Nicola Hooper
Friday 2 March, 2018 to Sunday 20 May, 2018
The Boyd Gallery

Nicola Hooper explores concepts surrounding ‘zoonoses’ or animal diseases that cross over to humans. Her works, created mainly on paper, include prints, artist books, sculptures and wallpaper. She uses these to examine how visual narratives, myths and rhymes can help in providing understanding of the perception of animals in the context of fear of disease.

75% of all new human diseases have their genesis within animal hosts. These hosts play an important role in maintaining diseases in nature with some, frighteningly, having the potential to be pandemic. Zoonotic hosts come in many shapes and sizes, and Hooper explores both historical and contemporary zoonoses and the hosts that act as reservoirs for these diseases.

Hooper’s lithographic sculptures explore size versus ratio of health risk. She creates rhymes to illustrate within her artist books, several being mosquito repellent, created using citronella oil combined with printing ink.

The works have mainly been created using lithography, a methodology important to her work because of associated links historically to publishing and storytelling. She explores frightening and emotive issues related to zoonoses in a visually subversive, euphonic way. This enables visitors to potentially engage with what would otherwise be frightening subject manner.

Nicola Hooper
Giant Flea & Zoonotic Wallpaper 2017
hand coloured lithographs digitally printed onto paper and board and wires
135cm × 135cm, wallpaper variable

Of Rivers and Floods - Rob Olver
Friday 2 March, 2018 to Sunday 20 May, 2018
The Temporary Exhibitions Gallery

“The rivers of the Tweed Valley are beautiful. They have provided humans living here with water, food and recreation for many thousands of years. But there is a darker side to this beauty. In late March 2017 ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie hit the Tweed Valley and dumped up to 750mm of rain on the catchment in little more than 24 hours. What followed was the largest flood to affect this region in recorded history.

I was deeply affected by the scale of this natural disaster. I spent time shovelling mud in South Murwillumbah and the experience was as close to a war zone as I have ever been. About five days after the flood I began taking photographs, partly as a way of understanding my own traumatic response to the event. Unusual scenes caught my eye, like debris lodging on fenceposts and trees. I was intrigued by the coping mechanisms of the people in the flood zone, which included painting cheeky slogans on signs out the front of affected dwellings.

The images in this exhibition seek to capture the damage to the natural and human environment of the Tweed, but also the resilience and humour of the people and communities affected by this natural disaster.”

Rob Olver, September 2017

Rob Olver
Flood debris I 2017
digital print on cotton rag
49 × 62 cm

Fiona Lowry - Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio
Friday 16 March, 2018 to Sunday 29 July, 2018
The Friends Gallery

In 2017 Sydney-based artist Fiona Lowry worked in the Gallery’s Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio to develop a body of work for a solo exhibition in the Friends Gallery in 2018.

Of her time in the region Lowry said, “Initially what was interesting about doing a residency in Murwillumbah was the opportunity to revisit a landscape that I spent some time growing up in.

My work often explores my own memories of place but also the history of place and this was a unique opportunity to immerse myself in my own history and to understand the history of this landscape.

I spent some time visiting the places that had held potent memories for me and started to think about the ties that bind you to a place; and how the history of a place is intrinsic to our own experience, even though it may be unspoken or unacknowledged.

I ended up spending time at the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Tweed Heads where you can stand amongst the mangroves near Minjungbal Aboriginal nature walk. From there you can look out to Ukerebagh Island, an Aboriginal heritage site where Australia’s first Aboriginal politician, Neville Bonner was born in 1922 whilst it was used as a reserve for Aboriginal people. Further around from the mangroves is a Bora ring, a sacred ceremonial site used traditionally until 1910. This potent bit of the Australian landscape is surrounded by encroaching highways and supermarkets but its historical revelations are transformative.”

Fiona Lowry, September 2017

Artwork in progress in Fiona Lowry’s Sydney studio
Fiona Lowry is represented by Jan Murphy Gallery (Brisbane) and Martin Browne Contemporary (Sydney).

A painter’s house
Friday 30 March, 2018 to Sunday 7 October, 2018
The Margaret Olley Art Centre

Margaret Olley’s Duxford Street home studio was filled with objects and things she collected and re-arranged as subject matter for her paintings for nearly 50 years. The re-creation of Olley’s home studio remains an evocative legacy of her life and work, revealing much to us of her processes for painting. Olley described her Duxford Street home as a studio first and foremost – a painter’s house.

To continue the vitality of the inspirational force of Olley’s house, the Tweed Regional Gallery invited four contemporary painters to explore objects and things within the home studio re-creation. Spending time in the Gallery’s Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio each artist has responded to the re-creation from the perspective of their own practice.

Responses by painters Monica Rohan (Brisbane), Guy Maestri (Sydney), John Honeywill (Brisbane) and Lewis Miller (Melbourne) will be exhibited alongside paintings by Margaret Olley. The exhibition will also include loans from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the University of Queensland Art Museum and private collections, as well as works from the Tweed Regional Gallery collection.

To complement this exhibition the Gallery will present an engaging program of activities and events. For details visit the Gallery website in 2018.

Margaret Olley
Bedroom still life 1997
oil on board
61 × 91cm
Maitland Regional Art Gallery Collection
© Margaret Olley Estate

Curtain Call - Andrew Antoniou
Friday 27 April, 2018 to Sunday 7 October, 2018
The Anthony Gallery

“Curtain Call relates to my immersion into the world of theatre, particularly that of the Absurdist movement. In this confined and constructed space we are allowed to focus on the drama of the human condition that is illuminated by un-natural light and given force by plot and characterisation. The genre of Absurdist Theatre has an open language that is able to utilise symbolism, metaphor, satire and conventional narrative in any combination, lending the imagery of the dramatic form a richness and diversity. Meaning is often cloaked in its complexity.

Within the work there are a series of recurring themes that are given differing contexts and spaces of a theatrical nature within which to exist. These themes are often around the concepts of time, mortality, love, ritual, conflict, and notions of magic and transformation. I see and express these concepts through figuration (cast), spacial composition (stage set) and narrative flow (script). I work with the idea of a ‘cast of characters’ and develop their roles in successive pieces to enable the viewer to see the possibilities of this approach in the telling of a story.”

Andrew Antoniou, September 2017

Andrew Antoniou is represented by Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney.

Andrew Antoniou
Let’s Dance 2016
charcoal on paper
100 × 124 cm

Border Art Prize
Friday 25 May, 2018 to Sunday 15 July, 2018
The Temporary Exhibitions and Boyd Galleries

The Border Art Prize is a biennial exhibition which supports the endeavours of artists living and working in North Eastern New South Wales and South East Queensland. The exhibition is open to all media and subject matter and attracts a wide variety of styles from both well-known and emerging artists.

On offer is a First Prize of $3,000 funded by Tweed Shire Council. Second and third prize, of $1,500 and $500 respectively, are funded by the Friends of the Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc.

Long-term Gallery supporter, artist and teacher Shirley Kennedy, also funds $1,500 in Encouragement Awards comprising two $500 and two $250 awards for emerging artists.

The exhibition typically includes painting, photography, textiles, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics, and reflects the breadth of artistic endeavour in the region. The Border Art Prize is always popular with the public and provides the opportunity to purchase work from the region at some very reasonable prices.

Entries open early 2018. Interested artists should contact the Gallery to obtain conditions of entry and entry form. Information is available on the Gallery website, phone (02) 6670 2790 or email

Robyn Sweaney
Oasis 2015
acrylic on linen
40 × 50cm
Winner, Border Art Prize, 2016
Photo courtesy of Robyn Sweaney

Subdivision - Georgie Maddox
Friday 25 May, 2018 to Sunday 15 July, 2018
Macnaughton Focus Gallery and Kelly Wall

Subdivision comments on the IKEA-inspired throw away generation of today. Local artist Georgie Maddox explores the effects of consumer culture on sustainability, as well as the broader environmental impacts on our natural landscape. Each work is created in oil on canvas and depicts an abstracted landscape within Northern NSW, where the artist states, “there is a constant battle between progress verses conservation of the natural land”. The works provide visual communication of these key issues through deconstruction – cutting, ripping, tearing – then reconstruction – compiling, realigning, restitching thus creating a new aesthetic and perspective of the original landscape artwork. The resulting artworks remind the viewer that once something has been destroyed, it can never be fully restored. Our natural environment is irreplaceable, precious and unique, just as our interaction with the land permanently alters and changes it for future generations.

Georgie Maddox
West Byron Development 2016
oil on canvas with cotton thread
39 × 39 × 10cm

Last Updated: 03 July 2015