2019 Exhibitions in Australian Galleries




the sea calls me by name

Until August 11th, 2019

James Drinkwater, The sea calls me by name, 2018,

The sea calls me by name shares its title with one of the paintings in this major solo exhibition and collaboration by Newcastle based artist James Drinkwater with Newcastle Art Gallery. A dynamic and multi-faceted artist Drinkwater has a growing reputation as an abstract painter who immerses himself in the environment of the places he paints exploring the connections between art, cultural and personal histories.

Drinkwater is highly awarded for an artist in his early thirties as a four time finalist in the Wynne Prize up until 2018, Sulman Prize finalist in 2016 and three time finalist in the Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship before winning it in 2014. Drinkwater has travelled extensively and painted in locations such as Berlin, Kenya, Paris and Tahiti.

In this exhibition Drinkwater returns to his home base in Newcastle and his familial memories as shown in his work of art titled Looking for Urchins and Louis Ferrari 2018.

James Drinkwater, Looking for urchins and Louis Ferrari, 2018, oil on canvas 240.0 x 180.0cm Artist collection

The painting is an intimate response to his own life with his children searching for sea urchins in the rock pools of the Cowrie Hole near Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle and is juxtaposed by his mother’s memories of his grandfather Captain Louis Ferrari.

Captain Ferrari was an Italian doctor who served in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped and died many years later now thought to be a result of the radiation exposure he received in service. This heartfelt collision of past and present lives are an example of Drinkwater’s fearlessness by running towards, rather than away from the telling of powerful and emotionally moving stories through his arts practice.

Newcastle Art Gallery



James Drinkwater The bulker wades past the peninsula and so we jubilate 2, 2018, oil on canvas, 240x180cm
James Drinkwater, Interior walls of the painter's mind, 2016, mixed Media, 180 x 120cm
James Drinkwater, James James ocean face, 2018, oil on canvas, 240 x 180cm




Until  25 Aug   2019

Free entry

Experience the vision and ingenuity of artists under 40 from across Australia in the second iteration of the Ramsay Art Prize. Held every two years, the Ramsay Art Prize invites submissions from Australian artists under 40 working in any medium.

detail: Vincent Namatjira, Western Arrernte people, Northern Territory, born 1983, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Close Contact, 2018, Indulkana, South Australia, synthetic polymer paint on plywood (two panels); Courtesy the artist, Iwantja Arts and THIS IS NO FANTASY + Dianne Tanzer Gallery.

Works by 23 artists have been selected as finalists and are on display in this major exhibition. The winner of the $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize 2019 is Vincent Namatjira with his work Close Contact, 2018.

The winning work of art is a double-sided portrait in acrylic paint on plywood. It represents a new way of working for Vincent Namatjira, and a departure from his wall-based paintings on canvas.

The title refers to the concept of ‘first contact’ between Indigenous Australians and Captain James Cook. Namatjira uses the double-sided painting as a strategy to explore the reversal of historical narratives of colonisation.

‘Close Contact’ presents an unexpected conflation of past and present, coloniser and colonised, and the British invasion/discovery of Australia.

Finalists were chosen by an international judging panel comprising Russell Storer, Deputy Director (Curatorial and Research), National Gallery of Singapore, Richard Lewer, contemporary artist, and Dr Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Art Gallery of South Australia.

Through the generosity of the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation, the winning work is acquired into the Gallery’s collection.




Until 13 OCT 2019 

Free entry

Ben Quilty, Australia, b.1973 / Margaret Olley (detail) 2011 / Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales / © Ben Quilty

Australian artist Ben Quilty met Margaret Olley when she was a guest judge for the 2002 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, which he won. Olley then became a friend and supporter of his work, and, in 2011 sat for a portrait by Quilty which won the Archibald Prize in 2011.

‘A Generous Life’ examines the legacy and influence of much-loved Australian artist, Margaret Olley (1923–2011) who spent a formative part of her career in Brisbane.  A charismatic character, she exerted a lasting impact on many artists as a mentor and friend and was also a muse for artists including William Dobell and Jeffrey Smart.

The exhibition will profile a life that was immersed in art – her own and those she supported.

Margaret Olley / Allamandas I (detail) c.1955-58 / Purchased 1961 / Collection: QAGOMA / © QAGOMA

At the age of 10, Margaret Olley moved to Brisbane where her journey to becoming an artist began. She was a boarder from 1937 to 1940 at South Brisbane’s Somerville House for girls, where she met fellow student Margaret Cilento. In 1953 Olley returned from travelling abroad to the family home in Hill End.

The old Queenslander house, Farndon, would play a pivotal role in her life, tying her to Brisbane for many years with it’s calm presence of high-ceilinged, generous rooms and lush subtropical garden.

Margaret Olley painted in many different styles, but was best known for her still lifes and portraits. Her lifelong love of nature found expression in exuberant paintings of flora, which charmed the public and the critics. Olley’s self-portraits track her artistic life from beginning to end as she captured her reflection in mirrors and depicts her personal possessions.

As the years progressed, Olley’s physical image in her self-portraits receded into the interior spaces, with the room surpassing her reflected image in importance.
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