Australian Fine Artist

Art Chat at McClelland Gallery

Speaker: Daina Fletcher,
Senior Curator
National Maritime Museum, Sydney

The National Maritime Museum holds collections of everything from ships and maritime objects from war and immigration. The museum is working on expanding and upgrading to hold video, artworks, literature and photography covering Australia’s history and love with the sea, the beach and all things “water” related. Efforts are being made for the near future, to start diving to record, preserve and document shipwrecks.

The Exhibition of photographs on loan from the museum documents Australia’s love of the beach from approximately the 1930s through to the last few years. Of major interest are the iconic prints of photos taken by Max Dupain, one of which has become famous world wide.

Daina spoke to a small but very interested group about how the culture of the beach evolved in Australia, and how it differed from state to state, with a big approach to bathing on the beach in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast in earlier years. It wasn’t that long ago that we had beach inspectors checking that people were covered up in a suitable manner. As late as the 1960s you could be directed to change what you were wearing or face a fine. I remember it in my lifetime.

This history of people interacting on the beach and the activities, the culture and the changes as well as the skill of the photographer should be interesting to anyone who has some curiosity about Australia’s recent history and the development of the iconic Australian “bronzed Aussie”. The separation of men and women to use bathing areas on beaches, and the use of the beach for hygienic reasons as well as recreation may be lost to history to many living today, but there was a time when we didn’t have plumbing and the sea was seen as a way to keep clean and prevent disease.

Later after WW2, the mostly German ideal of the body perfect, or the youthful healthy image filtered through to photographers and artists in a less sinister manner. The idea of the outdoors, being fit, having a tanned and healthy (and beautiful) body seeped into the thinking of society and art. At about the same time surfing came to Australia in a bigger way, and life saving was begun in more earnest as well.

The whole thing led to an ideal which has been captured in this exhibition. From the black and whites of the 1930s, 40s and 50s to recent colour prints harking back to images of the past with modern interpretations, and some large and beautiful recent mono-prints to be enjoyed for their artistic qualities as well as new messages, the exhibition has a wide range of images where you can find something that appeals.

The Exhibition continues for another two weeks only before going back to Sydney and entry is by gold coin donation. The cafe is open for lunch or light refreshments on days that the gallery is open.

McClelland Gallery web site with more information is:

Address: McClelland Drive, Langwarrin VIC 3910

Phone: (03) 9789 1671

Open Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10am-5pm
Closed on Mondays and some Public Holidays.

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