Art lovers get ready to save your pennies. Beginning in late October, Australia’s oldest regional gallery, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, has a four-month run of free exhibitions to enjoy.
Combined with capped V/Line fares, a new distillery bar a block away and a generous platter of brunch spots nearby, the gallery is the perfect centrepiece for a summer daytrip.
We may not have a sandy shoreline in Ballarat, but we sure can deliver on the cultural and culinary delights (and sweet, sweet air-conditioning on the dog days). Check out the gallery’s summer exhibition line up below – and treat yourself to a day out far from the maddening beach crowds.
LEILA JEFFREYS: NATURE IS NOT A PLACE TO VISIT. IT IS HOME
24 October 2023 – 4 February 2024 | Artist talk Thursday 26 October, 6-7pm
Leila Jeffreys is renowned for her stunning photographs of birds, often highlighting the precarious state of their habitats. Using some of the world’s most advanced slow-motion film technology, Jeffreys draws a parallel between the bonds that exist between humans, the way actions can shape collective behaviour and the intimate dynamics of the flock.
The video will be displayed on the Art Screen in Alfred Deakin Place beside the Gallery, alongside photographs on lightboxes from Jeffreys’ 2019 series High Society.
ANZARA CLARK: WHERE THE LIGHT ENTERS
26 October 2023 – 3 December 2023
Textile and fibre artist Anzara Clark explores the idea that wounds, cracks and brokenness allow light to penetrate spaces that would otherwise remain hidden, invisible and unaddressed.
4 November 2023 – 11 February 2024 | Curator talk Saturday 4 November, 2-3pm
This exhibition celebrates the connections between artists and their works in the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s collection, exploring a range of different relationships between pairs of artists – as partners, family members, teachers, mentors or friends.
TAMARA BEKIER: BETWEEN WORLDS
4 November 2023 – 28 January 2024 | Artist talk Sunday 26 November, 2-3pm
Ballarat-based artist Tamara Bekier’s dense and colourful works reflect her long and tumultuous life through the Second World War and the horrific experiences she suffered as a refugee in war-torn Europe. Her work is based on dreamscapes which reflect two parallel worlds – her past and her present. Bekier started training as an artist at the age of 48, forging a new career and a new way of living in Australia’s democratic society.
WHEREABOUTS: PRINTMAKERS RESPOND
18 November 2023 – 4 February 2024 | Curator talk Sat 18 November, 2-3pm
Leading Australian printmaker Rona Green joins a cross-section of emerging and established artists from across Victoria in this group exhibition exploring personal relationships with place, country and home. The 56 artists involved use a variety of print media and work in a range of genres and styles.
LAYERS OF BLAK
9 December 2023 – 10 March 2024
Layers of Blak celebrates the creative outcome of the Koorie Heritage Trust’s second year of the Blak Design program, showcasing jewellery from eleven Victorian First Peoples artists.
17 February 2024 – 21 April 2024
This annual showcase of VCE artworks gives visitors insights into the world of young people today by showing extraordinary works created by students from Government, Catholic and Independent schools from Ballarat, and the South Western Victorian region in 2023.
For more information, including workshops and special events, visit the Art Gallery of Ballarat website.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat is open 10am – 5pm daily, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Free guided tours depart daily at 11am. The gallery’s tour guides take a well earned break during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, so if you are travelling in this window, be sure to check the website for the latest on when tours resume.
This is also a rare case where exiting through the gift shop is a must do! The gallery shop is as carefully curated as the exhibitions spaces, filled with works by local artists and craftspeople as well as art books, jewellery, homewares and toys. For more clever gifts, you can’t go past the character-filled Collins bookstore on Lydiard Street and the vintage oddities ready to be rummaged at nearby Rocket and Belle.
1816 Bakehouse has a pop-up cafe at the gallery until mid-January (and after that, their delicious danishes and donuts are only a short walk away – just cut through the very arty Hop Lane to Armstrong Street).
For those travelling by train, don’t miss Itinerant Spirits in the heritage-listed Goods Shed, located a block down Lydiard Street from the gallery and opposite the Ballarat Railway Station.
Main image: Gwen Scott, Sunset dog, 2023.
Reduction linocut on paper. Image courtesy the artist and Queenscliff Gallery.
© Gwen Scott