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Out/About: ‘Destination Sydney’

By In/Out
December 3, 2015

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Grace Cossington Smith
Trees, c.1927
Oil on plywood, 91.5 x 74.3cm
Newcastle Art Gallery

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Elisabeth Cummings,
The Music Room, 1996,
Oil on canvas, 122 x 122 cm,
Mosman Art Collection

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Brett Whiteley
Self portrait in the studio, 1976,
Oil, collage and hair on canvas, 200.5 x 259 cm,
Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection
Purchased 1977.
© Wendy Whiteley

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Brett Whiteley
Self portrait in the studio, 1976,
Oil, collage and hair on canvas, 200.5 x 259 cm,
Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection
Purchased 1977.
© Wendy Whiteley

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
John Olsen,
Sydney Nights, 1965,
Oil on canvas, 91.5 x 122 cm,
Private Collection

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
John Olsen,
Kitchen by the Sea, 1971,
Acrylic on plywood, 182.5 x 229 cm,
Institute of Early Childhood Art Collection, Macquarie University

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Cressida Campbell
Interior with poppies (Margaret Olley’s house),1994
Woodblock 120 x 240 cm
Private Collection,
Courtesy Philip Bacon Galleries

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Cressida Campbell
White Waratah, 2000
woodblock 51.5 x 57 cm
Private Collection

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Elisabeth Cummings
Journey through the Studio, 2004,
oil on canvas, 175 x 300cm.
Private collection

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Kevin Connor
Town Hall Crowd 2004
oil on canvas 198.5 x 244 cm
Collection: James and Jacqui Erskine

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Lloyd Rees,
The Harbour from McMahon’s Point, 1950,
oil on canvas, 77.2 x 99.7cm,
Art Gallery of New South Wales collection – purchased 1950

Peter-Kingston_Passing-ferries,-1999-oil-on-canvas,-180-x-360cm_mini
Peter Kingston
Passing Ferries 1999
oil on canvas 180.5 x 360 cm
Collection: The Artist

In/Out: Out/About: DESTINATION SYDNEY Exhibition
Peter Kingston,
Morning Star, 2002,
Hand coloured sugar lift aquatint printed in black ink & gouache on BFK Rives,
68 x 50 cm,
Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection

So much of Sydney’s identity is a product of its situation of the shores of arguably the most picturesque natural harbour in the world. This aesthetic appeal has long been an influence on our artists and this summer three public galleries, The S.H. Ervin Gallery, Mosman Art Gallery and Manly Art Gallery and Museum will present work that utilizes Sydney, in her many guises, as the central theme and motivation. The S.H. Ervin will show Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston and Cressida Campbell, at Mosman, John Olsen, Kevin Connor and Peter Kingston and Manly, Lloyd Rees, Brett Whiteley and Elisabeth Cummings, whose show at King Street Gallery, Sydney featured here last week.

Curated by respected writer and publisher Lou Klepac ‘Destination Sydney’ draws on the power of Sydney and its harbour to inspire artists and the varying yield is where the true magic in this multi-venue exhibition resides.

While romance underlies all three artists exhibiting at Manly the audience is presented with an all consuming, sensual love from Brett Whiteley, a wistful, nostalgic love from his life long friend and mentor Lloyd Rees and the intimate, familiar love from Elisabeth Cummings. This is a particularly impressive collection of the artists’ most seminal works and the gallery’s generous proportions (for several very large scale paintings) sitting virtually on the high tide mark of the harbour make this a perfect place to share in their adoration of Sydney.

John Olsen also speaks of Sydney in emotive terms with a series of works referring to it as the ‘Siren City of Desire’, ‘The Seaport of Desire’ and in his diaries he calls her a ‘blue bitch goddess.’ After living overseas Olsen returns to his home town in the late 1960s and reacts with tremendous spontaneity that culminates with the Opera House mural based on the Kenneth Slessor poem ‘Five Bells.’ This poem tells a quintessentially Australian story of the writer and cartoonist Joe Lynch who falls tragically to his death from a Sydney ferry in 1927. Apparently he sunk to the bottom of the harbor weighed down by numerous beer cans in his coat pockets. You can almost imagine him on board one of the ferries that feature so prominently in Peter Kingston’s wonderful paintings and works on paper for many decades. Both he and Kevin Connor, who presents a grittier, urban view, have extended histories of working and residing in Mosman and neighbouring North Sydney and have built solid careers responding directly to their immediate surrounds.

The S.H. Ervin’s inclusion of the works of Grace Cossington-Smith, Margaret Preston and Cressida Campbell reveal another side of the city, they are less expansive and examine the suburban fringes of the city and interior views. Cossington-Smith painted mostly in and around her home in Turramurra while Margaret Preston made prints of native wildflowers near her Berowra residence. Cressida Campbell continues this tradition with her exquisite woodblocks, preferring subject matter that is personal and familiar.

Klepac explains how artists who live and work in Sydney tap into “the immense collective energy” and “extract their own individual vision from it.” The wonderful bi-product of this exhibition is that the audience bear witness to this dynamism and with the geographical setting of these galleries, share in the celebration of their common muse.

Destination Sydney
National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery
2 Watson St
Millers Point NSW 2000
Tues-Sun 11am-5pm (Closed Mondays and Public Holidays)
11 December – 21 February 2016

Mosman Art Gallery
Corner Art Gallery Way and Myahgah Rd
Mosman NSW 2088
Mon-Sun 10am-5pm (Closed Public Holidays)
05 December – 7 February 2016

Manly Art Gallery and Museum
West Esplanade
Manly NSW 2095
Tues-Sun 10am-5pm (Closed Mondays and Public Holidays)
05 December – 14 February 2016

Credits: Courtesy of Leah Haynes, National Association for the Visual Arts
Words by Katrina Arent

0 responses to “Out/About: ‘Destination Sydney’”

  1. What a great curatorial concept. Congrats

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