Thanks to Geelong Gallery, we have three copies of Geelong Gallery’s new publication Geelong Gallery—Collections to giveaway to three lucky Artin’ Geelong readers! To be in the running, simply leave a comment on this post stating your favourite work of art in the Geelong Gallery collection, before 5pm Friday 12 July. Three winners will be drawn at random and contacted by email next week. Thanks so much to Geelong Gallery for providing copies of this beautiful book.
I have an insatiable desire for good quality art books and the latest addition to my happily overstuffed bookcase is Geelong Gallery’s stylish new publication Geelong Gallery—Collections. The beautifully illustrated handbook showcases a selection of works of art acquired by the regional gallery since its foundation in 1896. The book features nearly 200 reproductions of Australian and international paintings, works on paper, sculpture, decorative arts and new media, and gives a good overview of the key works in the Gallery’s collection.
This is the first collection publication by Geelong Gallery since 1989 during which time the Gallery’s collection has developed significantly. As stated in the Foreword, the publication “aims to capture the essential character, scope and sheer quality of Geelong’s permanent collection”. Of course, all the major works are represented, such as Eugene von Guérard’s View of Geelong (1856), Frederick McCubbin’s A bush burial (1890) and Russell Drysdale’s Hill End (1948), as well as the recent purchase of Ocean blue, Lorne (1921) by Arthur Streeton.
Interesting facts about the collection and its benefactors are revealed in the short introductory texts in each section of the book. I was interested to read that Frederick McCubbin’s A bush burial was one of the most expensive paintings on the Australian art market back in 1900 and the Geelong Art Gallery Association launched a public subscription to raise the considerable sum of 100 guineas to buy it. What a flash of foresight by the Gallery founders – it is now one of Geelong Gallery’s most well known works of art and a widely acknowledged masterpiece by the Australian Heidelberg School artist.
The publication also shows a range of contemporary art held by Geelong Gallery. The collection of modern and contemporary works has been enhanced through the Geelong acquisitive print awards and the Geelong contemporary art prize. Also represented are the Gallery’s holdings of small sculpture, glass and ceramics including British painted porcelain from the 1750 to 1850 and translucent Belleek porcelain.
Left page: Juan Ford, Painting, Phrenology (abstraction) 2004 which won the contemporary art prize in 2004, then known as Fletcher Jones art prize. Right page: Paul Ryan, Wild colonial boys 2012, winner of the Geelong contemporary art prize 2012. Photography: David Pidgeon
One of the main characteristics of Geelong Gallery’s permanent collection is the wealth of imagery illustrating the story of Geelong and its surrounds and a whole section of the book is devoted to this. Colonial paintings and landscape paintings are another predominant aspect of the collection and if there is one work that epitomises all these themes, it is Eugene von Guérard’s magnificent View of Geelong (1856). The purchase of this work for 3.8 million attracted national headlines after Geelong Gallery mounted a truly heroic campaign to buy it from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2006.
The painting has proved to be a major attraction for Geelong Gallery and it is no wonder then that such an iconic work was selected to feature on the cover. Glimpses of von Guérard’s panoramic painting can be seen through an overlay of contemporary die-cut shapes, the grid like pattern an abstraction of the Geelong Gallery logo. The combination of the painting with the stylized shapes cleverly conveys both the traditional and contemporary aspects of the Gallery’s collection. Simply brilliant! The cover is a masterpiece of inspired graphic design by Design By Pidgeon and meticulously produced by Adams Print.
Stunning cover design featuring bespoke design and a detail image of Eugene von Guérard’s View of Geelong. Photography: David Pidgeon.
With over 6,000 works in the Gallery’s collection, it must have been a difficult task to decide which works of art were to be included or excluded. Geoffrey Edwards, Director of Geelong Gallery said they had no choice but to edit out many works in favour of illustrating the absolute keys to the collection.
“Initially we had on occasion multiple possibilities for any one artist but in most cases we brought it down to a single major image. In other cases the idiosyncratic format of a work may not have been a comfortable fit with the design of the publication and through a veil of tears hit the cutting room floor,” Mr Edwards said. “In some cases difficult copyright issues informed our selection. And in other cases working drawings for very well-known works would have ideally been reproduced next to the final work but space precluded us from doing this. For example, working drawings for Russell Drysdale’s celebrated Hill End (1948) painting and Noel Counihan’s On the eve of the election (1955) were cases in point.”
Despite these inevitable omissions, Geelong Gallery—Collections is an informative record of the Gallery’s collection. It is a good resource for anyone with an interest in Australian art since a significant proportion of the collection is by Australian artists or immigrant artists depicting Australian subjects. The index reads like a who’s who in Australian art, indicating the calibre of the collection: Rick Amor, George Baldessin, Clarice Beckett, George Bell, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, John Brack, Pat Brassington, Rupert Bunny, Louis Buvelot, Grace Cossington Smith, Russell Drysdale, Max Dupain, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Bill Henson, Hans Heysen, Frederick McCubbin, Polixeni Papapetrou, Jeffrey Smart, Arthur Streeton, Danila Vassilieff, Eugene von Guérard, Daniel von Sturmer, Brett Whiteley, Fred Williams, and Anne Zahalka, to name a just a few. A number of international artists are also represented such as Stanhope Forbes, Gustave Doré, Hudson River school artist William Bradford, and artists associated with the Royal Academy in London such as Edwin Long and Thomas Kennington.
This is a comfortably sized book that is not too heavy for travellers wishing to keep a souvenir of their trip to Geelong or for those of us who like to browse a book in bed. It is the perfect gift for art lovers, and a stylish publication to cherish.
A page showing Pause 2003, the glazed porcelain work of renowned potter Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. I included this here as a small tribute to the Ballarat born ceramicist who died in London earlier this week, aged 77. Photography: Artin’ Geelong.
Geelong Gallery—Collections is available for sale through the Geelong Gallery Shop for $50.00. To purchase a copy simply visit the Geelong Gallery, 55 Little Malop St, Geelong, or phone +61 3 5229 3645 or email. Or go in the running to win a copy by leaving a comment on this post, stating your favourite work of art in Geelong Gallery!