Artists explore Australia as an exotic land

Australian exotica, a new travelling exhibition from Monash Gallery of Art (MGA), opens at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre on Friday 20 July.

Drawing on MGA's nationally significant collection of Australian photographs, the exhibition showcases the works of some of Australia's most celebrated artists, engaging with the theme of the exotic antipodes.

 Peter Dombrovskis, Lake Oberon, Western Arthur Range, south-west Tasmania 1988, pigment inkjet print, 74.5 x 94.2cm

Peter Dombrovskis, Lake Oberon, Western Arthur Range, south-west Tasmania 1988, pigment inkjet print, 74.5 x 94.2cm

 Joseph McGlennon, Florilegium #1 2014 from the series Florileigum, pigment ink-jet print, 127 x 100cm

Joseph McGlennon, Florilegium #1 2014 from the series Florileigum, pigment ink-jet print, 127 x 100cm

Since the 15th century, when European cartographers began including the contour of Terra Australis Incognita ('the unknown land of the south') in their speculative maps of the globe, the continent of Australia has been thought of as an exotic place. And when European explorers finally reached the southern continent, reports of unfamiliar flora, fauna and indigenous people only perpetuated this striking vision.

The characterisation of Australia as a land down under, where things are out of the ordinary and colourfully unconventional, remains a key feature of this country's national identity. No longer just a projection of a European imagination, Australians themselves have come to celebrate the topsy-turvy nature of life in the land of Oz, where marsupials lay eggs, Christmas celebrations take place at the height of summer, and water supposedly goes down the drain in an anticlockwise direction.


MGA Curator, Stella Loftus-Hills, said of the exhibition: "Our aim is to provide people with the opportunity to achieve a deeper appreciation of photography. This exhibition includes prominent Australian photographs that relate to what it means to be an Australian, or at least what someone looking in might think about this country."

"I hope people would leave the exhibition feeling as though they had experienced something new about photography and Australia, something  that perhaps they hadn't realised before," she said.

Australian exotica features the work of 11 prominent Australian photographers, including Brook Andrew, Michael Cook, Destiny Deacon, Peter Dombrovskis, Marian Drew, Leah King-Smith, Joseph McGlennon, Tracey Moffatt, Darren Siwes, Robyn Stacey and Christian Bumbarra Thompson.

All are welcome to attend the opening celebrations at Tweed Regional Gallery on Friday 27 July at 6pm with guest speaker Craig Tuffin, Photographic Artist.

The exhibition will be opened in conjunction with Experimenta Make Sense and Alison Allcock: Exchange. The exhibition runs from 20 July to 23 September 2018.