This Wondrous Land Colonial Art on Paper

Gallery 11, Level 2, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

This Wondrous Land: Colonial Art on Paper offers a rich pictorial record of Australia’s history with rarely seen treasures and new acquisitions displayed for the first time.

Art Exhibition previously on at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Australia.
From Saturday 16 July 2011 to Sunday 27 November 2011

Study for gum-flowers and 'love' 1850 image (Borogegal man), a native of the environs of Port Jackson image View of the Heads, at the entrance to Port Jackson, New South Wales image

Published by anonymous on Monday 16 May 2011.
Contact the publisher.

Drawn from the NGV’s diverse collection, the exhibition features prints, drawings, watercolours, illustrated books and miniature paintings, and explores the crucial role art on paper played in the early representation of European settlement in Australia. Covering the period from the 1770s to 1880s, the works range from etchings and engravings made after voyages of exploration to accomplished watercolours of established colonies. To accommodate the great variety of material, the exhibition has been divided into two parts.

Part one (NGV International, 29 Apr – 25 Sep) draws together images about the exploration and settlement of the continent. Key themes include early representations of native animals, which were a great source of fascination to Europeans, and images showing Indigenous life and customs, including a number of portraits. Representations of the landscape range from early topographical prints by convict artists to beautiful watercolours and drawings by professional artists such as Conrad Martens and Louis Buvelot. The selected works highlight the different purposes for which images were produced – some were made as documentary records, while others such as Joseph Lycett’s hand-coloured etchings served to entice investment and immigration, and later artists including John Skinner Prout and Eugene von Guérard made works for the growing art market.

Part two of the exhibition (NGV Australia, 16 Jul – 27 Nov) concentrates on the development of the city of Melbourne and its art scene. Artists such as Edward La Trobe Bateman, Georgiana McCrae, George Alexander Gilbert and von Guérard were all intimately associated within Melbourne’s small art world in the mid nineteenth century. The exhibition traces some of the connections between individuals, their friends and professional relationships, and also features early images of Melbourne, which was developing into a city of impressive wide streets, substantial buildings and burgeoning institutions. This view of the colony is counterbalanced with drawings by Indigenous artists such as William Barak and Tommy McRae who recorded their culture and experience using the introduced materials of pen and ink, watercolours and paper.

On 16 July a symposium will be held in which local and interstate colonial art experts explore a range of topics relating to this fascinating period of Australian art. The book This Wondrous Land: Colonial Art on Paper will be launched on the same day.