Arts & Culture

Ann Thomson and Robert Moore at Cangi. Image: Contributed.

New exhibitions celebrate the Clarence valley and river

The Grafton Regional Gallery will open four exhibitions on 19 March after a 14-month renovation as part of the first program in the new gallery space.

River to the Sea showcases the mighty Clarence River and the surrounding landscape through the eyes of nationally recognised artists – Frances Belle Parker, Sophie Cape, Steve Lopes, Euan Macleod, Robert Moore, Amanda Penrose Hart, Deborah Taylor and Ann Thomson. In the tradition of ‘en plein air’, these contemporary artists were invited to respond to the local landscape during a field trip in Spring 2020. This exhibition presents the mighty Clarence River and surrounding landscape as seen through the eyes of the artists and explores our connection to place and the natural environment, as well as providing a new perspective of the Clarence Valley. The project support material includes an illustration by local artist Cass Samms, catalogue essay by local writer Lesley Apps and photographic and video documentation by Cher Breeze and Danny Loyden. In her essay Apps reveals the link between this exhibition and the inaugural 1988 exhibition Artist/Tree on exhibition when the Grafton Regional Gallery opened its doors for the first time.

Unwrapping: Desire, Allure and the Culture of Single Use Plastic: a vivid burst of happiness and colour with the Goldberg Aberline Studio community collaboration conducted throughout 2020. This is an exciting installation, and the fruition of a twelve-month collaboration with Goldberg Aberline, the Lower Clarence Arts Group, Cowper Art Gallery and Studio, McAuley Catholic College; and local artists Cassandra-lyn Palmer, Kerrie Bowles, Julianne Gosper, Linda Coombs, Deborah McLennan, Cynthia McDermott, Suzanne Monin, Toni Simpson, Diane Nixon, Michelle Worley and Pamela Denise. Unwrapping explores the GAS’s fascination with the tantalising, decorative aspects of consumerism and commercial packaging. What draws us to the shiny, colour saturated surfaces, and how does it create in us a sense of value and status? How can such a powerful object of desire become completely worthless the moment it is discarded? Unwrapping engages with the Clarence Valley community to break down our complex relationship with plastics, raising awareness and tackling our urgent environmental issues.

Our Place: celebrates the Clarence Valley and the creativity of the local community. Participants of all ages and skill levels have been invited to share their experiences of living in the region. This exhibition highlights the cultural vibrancy of the Clarence Valley and has given local artists, makers, and creatives an opportunity to make their mark on the new gallery. Featuring two-dimensional works across all mediums, Our Place: Celebrating the Clarence emphasises the talent of Clarence locals.

Select: recent additions to the collection. Over the past two years the acquisition program has focused on works that celebrate contemporary drawing, supporting local creativity and creating a wider context for existing artworks in the collection.

Gallery Director Niomi Sands said, ‘These exhibitions represent a celebration of the magnificent Clarence Valley, I congratulate the artists on their wonderful work and it’s inspiring to see the Clarence reflected in such a vibrant group of exhibitions that explore contemporary practice.”

Grafton Regional Gallery, where amazing things happen!

Debby Taylor and Euan Macleod at RedCliff. Image: Contributed.