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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Art > Fine Art > Art Gallery > The Art Gallery of New South Wales > The Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project


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The Archibald Prize

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Selection of Exhibitions 2005

Points of view: Australian photography 1985-95


Rajput: sons of kings - Indian miniatures

Margaret Preston exhibition

Wolfgang Laib

19th Century Australian Watercolours, drawings & pastels

Dadang Christanto - They give evidence

Simryn Gill Standing still

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Albertina: Old Master Drawings from Vienna

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David Rosetzky wins 2005 Anne Landa Award

Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project

True Stories: Art of the East Kimberley

Tracey Emin

Susan Norrie - Undertow

SEASONS: The Beauty of Transience in Japanese Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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The Art Gallery of New South Wales

at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

  Neil and Diane Balnaves, through the Balnaves Foundation, have made a five-year commitment to exhibitions and acquisitions of both contemporary and historical sculpture.

 Formed in 2003, the Balnaves Foundation primarily supports the fields of art and medicine. One of its key objectives in the art world is to assist this sculpture project at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 

 Neil Balnaves said, "Diane and I developed a strong interest in sculpture following on from our support of Sculpture by the Sea. It was then we recognised the breadth and depth of Australian sculpture and what a vibrant role it was playing. We also realised the medium did not enjoy the same level of support as other art forms. This has lead to our enthusiastic support of this initiative." 

 Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, said, "The Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project is a hugely welcome addition to the Gallery's annual programme. Its focus on sculpture is timely, as interest in both contemporary and historical sculpture reflects an enduring fascination with the creative potential of three-dimensional objects."

Five-year Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project

 2003 the inaugural event in the programme was an exhibition devoted to five of the country's most innovative younger artists. Still Life was on view at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from September to November 2003 and was selected by Curator of Contemporary Australian Art, Wayne Tunnicliffe. 

 2004 saw the commission and exhibition by the Gallery of a major, site-specific sculpture or installation by one of Australia's most influential contemporary sculptors. 

 In 2005 Wolfgang Laib is invited to the Art Gallery of New South Wales by Head Curator Tony Bond to produce a new ephemeral sculpture. 

 In 2006 a retrospective exhibition on the work of Bertram Mackennal, Australia's internationally renowned Victorian/Edwardian sculptor, with an accompanying monograph and catalogue raisonné, will be organised by the Gallery's Curator of Australian Art, Deborah Edwards. 

 In 2007 the Gallery will purchase for the permanent collection a significant outdoor or indoor work by a living or historical Australian sculptor.

Still Life sculptor project

Ricky Swallow
Everything is nothing 2003.
Laminated Jelutong (hardwood),  21.6 x 32 x 14cm, Courtesy of Karen Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles. Lindemann Collection, Miami


 Ricky Swallow, winner of the Contempora 5 award in 1999, is one of Australia's highest profile younger artists. He lives and works in Los Angeles, and this is the first time his recent wooden sculptures have been exhibited in Australia. Swallow's meticulously hand-carved objects are remarkably life-like and yet they also seem to be about loss and the passing of time. It is as if they are a form of commemoration for fragments of the artist's own life and experiences. In Growing Pains the artist's arms are outstretched holding pills; a mask screaming and melting on the wall is entitled Ask me about my feelings; a skull wearing the artist's beanie is called Everything is nothing. 

 Ronnie van Hout's No Exit, part 1 is a life-size self-portrait in which the artist, wearing a blonde wig and ill-fitting suit, regards two fragile birds in his hand. As always in van Hout's work when he depicts himself, it is the failure to achieve a knowable and coherent self-image that seems to be the subject of his work. The title, No Exit, is from Sartre's play of the same name in which three people who died recently realise that hell is being locked in a room with each other for eternity. Ronnie van Hout's work suggests that hell could be an eternity trapped within the desire to know your self. A survey exhibition of Ronnie van Hout's work is currently touring New Zealand before being shown in Melbourne. 

 In Emily Floyd's This door was only ever meant for you, red velvety letters wind their way across unreasonably long desk tops. The sentences are selected from Franz Kafka's The Trial and both reflect and parody our expectations of artists and the creative process. The ornamentation on the legs of the desks echoes the late 19th Century architecture of the Art Gallery vestibule, visible through the adjacent glass windows, a detail that suggests the pervasiveness of institutional bureaucracies. 

 Mikala Dwyer's room installation utilises the plinth, the basic presentation support for traditional sculpture, as a point of departure. It is almost a launching pad for her accumulation of clear plastic forms and other elements as they stack up towards the gallery ceiling. The seemingly haphazard nature of these elements has a playful aesthetic logic grounded in material pleasure. Mikala Dwyer's work will be included in the forthcoming Australian exhibition at the prestigious Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. 

 James Angus applies mathematical and geometric equations to existing structures, both natural and man-made, to create sculptures that are relentlessly logical and yet visually and spatially disorientating. His new architectural model and large wall drawing are propositions about how we see and experience form, function, design and space. James Angus' Shangri-la, an eye-popping inverted balloon, was exhibited in the Opera House foyer during the 2002 Sydney Biennale and Angus will also be exhibiting at the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof in October. 

 Exhibition curator Wayne Tunnicliffe says, "Sculpture remains one of the most innovative areas of contemporary art practice, a testament to an enduring fascination with the creative potential of three dimensional objects. The works in this exhibition are conceptual sculptures in that they are as much about ideas as they are about reproducing material form." 

Inaugural Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project

 Still Life brought together work by five of Australia's most innovative younger sculptors. Their sculptures are based in an observation of the material world, and yet rather than a faithful depiction of inanimate objects, it is the flux of our lives that is their subject 

 The sculptures included finely detailed realist carvings, computer-modelled architectural propositions, life-like self-portraits and hallucinatory accumulations of improbable crafted objects. As the title also suggests, time, space and memory are important terms for these works. 

 In 2003, Still Life was the first in a five year programme of exhibitions, commissions and acquisitions which present sculpture by Australian and international artists. The generous support of the Balnaves Foundation enables the Art Gallery of New South Wales to explore in depth the latest directions in sculpture as well as to undertake significant historical survey exhibitions. 


Art Gallery of New South Wales 
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney 2000

Telephone: (02) 9225 1744 or 
nationwide tollfree 1800 679 278 

Hours: 7 days a week 10am to 5pm 
(closed Christmas Day and Easter Friday) 
Art After Hours open every Wednesday until 9pm 

Admission: Free



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