Darebin Art Collection

The Frilled-neck Filly of Bundoora Homestead

Public Description: 

Hybrid mythical creatures and giant Australian animals are common encounters in the artwork of Sharon West. Set in a traditional landscape, West presents a unique way of exploring the relationships between the white settler, Aboriginal cultures and the Australian landscape. The artist navigates within Australia’s colonial narratives to highlight the cultural conditions of settlement, and the accompanying dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land.

West’s artwork is grounded in satire and, at the same time, references Australian landscape movement paintings, reflecting colonial perspectives of history and myth, while imbued with the artist’s imagination and personal narratives. Offering re-imagined glimpses of Victorian history with people of the Kulin Nation, West creates statements about colonisation as an evolving historical and cultural process.

In The Frilled-neck Filly of Bundoora Homestead, West reflects upon the influence of European domestic animals over the Australian environment and the radical impact of introduced animals on the natural flora and fauna. The ‘Frilled-neck Filly’, a fantastic hybrid curio of lizard and horse, takes up a somewhat menacing stance a short distance away from Bundoora Homestead, a stately Queen Anne style Federation mansion and horse stud. The artwork was created first as a diorama with a hand painted background and then photographed through glass, flattening the texture to further distort the legitimacy of colonial settlement.

West has developed a comprehensive and impressive body of work examining the relationship between settler and Indigenous cultures within the context of Australian colonial art history. She practices principally with the mediums of painting, assemblage and digital media. West has exhibited widely in Australia and has curated a number of exhibitions working primarily with Victorian Indigenous artists. She is the recipient of various awards including the Excellence in Conceptual Photography Award Kodak Salon (CCP, 2011) Bendigo Bank Emerging Award for the ANL Maritime Art Awards (Mission to Seafarers, 2011), and winner of the Darebin Art Show (2011). Her artwork is held in public collections including the State Library of Victoria, City of Melbourne and the Museum of the British Empire (UK) as well as many private collections.

The Frilled-neck Filly of Bundoora Homestead © Sharon West

Rabbit Progress

Public Description: 

In Rabbit Progress, Peter Waples-Crowe presents the ever multiplying rabbit as a symbol of European colonisation, and highlights the absurdity of the unintended consequences of the introduction of these extremely prolific creatures that was catastrophic for the natural environment. Recognised as a critical agricultural threat, a rabbit proof fence was constructed at the turn of the 20th century to keep Western Australian pastoral areas free of the devastation caused by crop damage and soil erosion. Later drastic biological measures, including the use of myxomatosis in the 1950s and Rabbit Haemorrhage Disease (RHD) in the 1990s, were used in a semi-successful attempt to control burgeoning rabbit numbers. The long lasting effects of the original folly are the constant dangers posed by the wild rabbit population to Australia’s ecology. In contrast, the didgeridoo player featured in the artwork represents traditional Aboriginal culture in harmony with the land.

Peter Waples-Crowe is a descendent of the Wiradjuri and Ngarigo nations. He is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice examines identity, race and culture. His primary interests are the exploration of Indigeneity, dislocation, globalisation, popular culture and subculture. Using various techniques such as cut and paste appropriations and mixed media applications, his work is influenced variously by politics, sexuality, adoption, traditional Indigenous cultures, street art and humour.. Waples-Crowe has twice won the Victorian Indigenous Art award for works on paper (2013 & 2014).

Rabbit Progress © Peter Waples-Crowe

Puppy (2)

Public Description: 

In Puppy (2) Natalie Thomas pays homage to Jeff Koon’s Puppy (1992) as she explores the interaction between humans, pets, science and our experience of nature. Thomas uses tiny shells to cover a plaster spaniel creating a fur effect that references the folk art traditions of seaside town mementos, and a childhood spent growing up in Queensland.

From classical antiquity, the shell or mollusc has been regarded as one of the most amazing achievements of nature, and has frequently been imitated in works of art. The architecture and astonishing ornamentation of shells are used in this work to compose an external covering suggestive of armour on forms; recognisable as a puppy. The use of shells to represent form and fur is a means through which complex human experience is distilled down to simple motifs and ideas; in this instance the experience of walking with a dog on a beach. Research assures us of the significant emotional benefits of pet ownership. Whether the mechanism is touch, exercise, attachment, non-evaluative social support, or some combination of these, the human connection to the non-human animal world is enjoyed by many and merits our close consideration.

Natalie Thomas has a diverse and independent visual and performing arts practice encompassing sculpture assemblage, gardening and photography. She works with multiple themes which are driven by an interest in the media landscape, consumption and popular culture. Thomas has exhibited extensively as an individual and as part of a collaborative project ‘nat&ali’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane) and Art Basel 2010 (Florida, USA). She is the recipient of the William and Winifred Bowness Prize for Photography, Monash Gallery of Art (2008) and a winner of the Darebin Art Show (2013).

Puppy (2) © Natalie Thomas.

Red Brick Bridge Over Darebin Creek

Public Description: 

The colour screen print Red Brick Bridge Over Darebin Creek depicts a charming view of the City of Darebin from the mid-twentieth century. With rolling hills and vegetation, it stands as a remarkably rural vista compared to the suburbia and light industrial setting of today. Created from 15 stencils, it is from an edition of 38.

Alan Sumner MBE (1911-1994) was born in Northcote, and was a significant Australian painter, printmaker, teacher and stained glass designer. After studying at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, RMIT and the George Bell School in the early 1930s, he travelled to Europe and the UK, furthering his training at the Grand Chaumière and the Courtauld Institute. On his return to Melbourne, he took up an apprenticeship as a stained glass designer with Brooks, Robinson & Co, before becoming a designer for E.L. Yencken & Co. Sumner taught painting at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School from 1947 to 1950 and spent nine years as Head of the School from 1953 onward. He had a studio in Wellington Street, Collingwood, and completed around 100 stained glass window commissions for buildings including the Church of the Epiphany, Northcote, and St Gabriel’s, Reservoir. Sumner produced a large range of colour, multiple stencil screenprints on paper, of which many are held in major public collections around the country.

Hearing the Music: A Portrait of Christos Tsiolkas

Public Description: 

In Hearing the Music: A Portrait of Christos Tsiolkas, Nick Stella eloquently captures the passion and intensity of the internationally acclaimed, award winning author, Christos Tsiolkas. Stella skilfully compels the viewer to look into the eyes of his subject who seems to stare back at us with a beguiling sense of compassion and understanding.

Hearing the Music: A Portrait of Christos Tsiolkas © Nick Stella

Bundoora Homestead

Public Description: 

Bangkok-born Srivilasa created the work Bundoora Homestead for a group exhibition held within the Access Gallery at Bundoora Homestead Art Gallery in 2006. His work responds to the history and architectural features of Bundoora Homestead through the use of motifs associated with the Smith Family, owners of the property between 1899 and 1920. The blue and white cylindrical ceramic vase, decorated with the race and stud horse, Wallace, and a swallow and butterfly design found within the stained glass windows in the building, are surrounded by eight small white sculptural hands.

Wallace, who was sired by the 1890 Melbourne Cup winner Carbine, was a thoroughbred at stud at Bundoora Park from 1901 to 1917 and earned a fortune for the Smith family via successful progeny including the champion racehorse, Trafalgar. Portraits of both Wallace and Trafalgar are part of the Darebin Art Collection.

The swallow and butterfly featured in the stained glass windows in the Homestead are attributed to August Fischer, a renowned glass artist of the late 19th century in Melbourne.

Srivilasa’s art practice is predominantly focused upon ceramics, and also includes animation, works on paper and sculpture. His recent work explores ideas of contemporary social, political and ethical issues, as well as his experience living between his two homes; Australia and Thailand. This distinctive blue and white style pottery is based on the Thai tradition of making Chinese style ‘blue and white’ under-glazed porcelain, sometimes called Ming porcelain (although the style originated earlier in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1378).

Outback, Preston

Public Description: 

Senior’s artwork interrogates the themes of suburbia, industry and human influence over the landscape. His practice investigates the literal landscape with attention to the reduction of features achieved through colour blocking, architectural volumes and geometry to describe the human-intervened landscape. Influenced by artists such as Richard Estes (United States b.1932), Charles Sheeler (United States 1883-1965) and Jeffrey Smart (Australia 1921-2013), his work is evocative and contemplative, filled with intricate detail and informed by a passion for finding beauty in the built landscape.

Outback, Preston © Ken Senior

DIM Furniture, Thomastown (Industryscapes 34)

Public Description: 

DIM Furniture, Thomastown (Industryscapes 34) is a precise and detailed industrial landscape presented to the viewer from an eye-level street perspective: a factory located in Thomastown, a northern suburb of Melbourne, comprising silos and heavy equipment together with a jumble of accumulated debris. Employing a flatness of form and colour, Senior’s watercolour palette is deliberately subtle using many colours with similar tonal values to construct a composition that reflects our understanding of a stereotypical Melbourne industrial site.

Senior’s artwork interrogates the themes of industry, suburbia and human influence over the landscape. His practice investigates the literal landscape with attention to the reduction of features achieved through colour blocking, architectural volumes and geometry to describe the human-intervened landscape. Influenced by artists such as Richard Estes (United States b.1932), Charles Sheeler (United States 1883-1965) and Jeffrey Smart (Australia 1921-2013), his work is evocative and contemplative, filled with intricate detail and informed by a passion for finding beauty in an austere built landscape.

DIM Furniture, Thomastown (Industryscapes 34) © Ken Senior

Sienna Earth

Public Description: 

Sienna Earth is a highly precise, intricate and colourful motif-based work that considers the damage and devastation Man has wrought upon the Earth. The solution, as depicted in the painting and represented by 100 interconnected masks, requires genuine communication and commitment between disparate global cultures to restore balance and harmony to the planet.

Caesar Sario’s art reflects his passion for the environment and endangered species everywhere. He draws inspiration from the concept that human beings can aspire to be at one with nature.

Sienna Earth © Caesar Sario