More than 3000 objects are usually kept out of sight in Wollongong Art Gallery’s private collection, but this is the year they’re going to exhibit as many of these hidden gems as they can.
Program director John Monteleone said most collections – whether in state or regional galleries – rarely (or never) come out to the public so they wanted to capitalise on the gallery’s 40th anniversary with many collection driven shows.
“Art can make comment, can reflect or respond to the community in which it exists and the artist who made it, and so art collections … we bring them out in different ways to tell stories,” Monteleone said.
“Some artists, the whole nature of the work they do is about making social and historical comment through their work.”
He said essentially art galleries were like museums so exhibiting most of their collection will add a new perspective to the Illawarra’s history.
The four main areas in the collection are early Illawarra landscapes (dating back to the 1830s), traditional and contemporary Indigenous art from around Australia, contemporary Australia art (including local artists) and Asian art (including a 2000-year-old object).
Artworks will be grouped in different ways. Chromophilia, which is now on show, groups anything from sculptures to textiles to videos by colour in a rainbow effect. While exhibitions will see works accompanied by staged performance on video, sound recordings and poetry.
Other highlights this year will include Jewels of the Crown showing the gallery’s best pieces; Here and Now, involving 198 boards handed out to Illawarra artists for them to contribute; a show highlighting how television has influenced society; “After Dark” events at the gallery; and art workshops for children and adults.
In 1975 Cringila steelworker Bronius “Bob” Sredersas gifted his prized art collection of 142 works to the Wollongong City, which provided the final impetus for the establishment of the gallery in 1978.
“It was that gift who helped propel the council at the time to open an art gallery, so it’s a very important moment,” Monteleone said.