Pulse Perspectives and Hatched alumni’s art journey

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Artist and Pulse Perspectives and Hatched alumni, Ben Bannan.

Ben Bannan knows a thing or two about how to carve a successful path in Western Australia’s arts industry having been selected as a Pulse Perspectives artist in 2014 and  Hatched 2018. We recently chatted to Ben about his inspirational art journey.

What do you remember about your experience in the Pulse Perspectives exhibition? Did you take away new ideas, advice that has helped you get to where you are now?

I remember being really excited that both of my year 12 works had been accepted into the exhibition. At that time Year 12 Perspectives seemed like the biggest possible opportunity and more than anything I was excited that my work could be viewed by such a large audience. I think being in the exhibition helped give me some confidence to study contemporary art at a tertiary level.

What influenced you to go down the artistic path and who would you say has had the most profound impact on your choices so far?

Art was always something I did for joy and comfort growing up. From doing art for leisure to pursuing a career in the arts there have been different people and mentors along the way that have impacted me. I had very supportive art teachers in high school who nurtured my enthusiasm and then when I went to University, I had lecturers that really encouraged me to take risks. Most recently in February, I finished an internship at PICA with Eugenio Viola and Charlotte Hickson. This was a particularly formative experience for me, and they are both people who have helped expand the way I think about my arts practice and other ways of engaging with the arts professionally.

What advice can you give the artists in Pulse Perspectives this year in relation to how to forge ahead with their artistic career? What are the challenges they may face?

I’d really encourage anyone wanting to forge a career in the arts to engage with artist-run-spaces in Perth such as Cool Change Contemporary, Paper Mountain and The Lobby to name a few. These are the spaces where peers are showing, making and supporting local and national art and supporting them gives artists the opportunity to really engage with and become part of the arts community. Pursuing a career in the arts can often be really frustrating when you often encounter people who might not understand your choices or dismiss the industry. I think these encounters are important in challenging your goals, but they also become a lot easier to answer and justify when you feel like you’re making the decision alongside a large number of really amazing, talented and driven people.

You exhibited in Hatched 2018. How does this experience different to what you went through with Perspectives?

I exhibited in Hatched 2018. Graduating from art school was very different from graduating from year 12. High school focuses on developing two singular works or ‘final pieces’ that are meant to encapsulate everything you know and have learnt up until that point. My experience in art school was much more about developing ways of working and interests that could develop into bodies of work and sustain a practice. Therefore, my Hatched experience included much more of focus on working with PICA to customize my project for the exhibition in a way that best fitted my work within the constraints of a large group show. It was really my first experience with gallery practices and protocols and it was exciting to be a part of that process.

Any exciting news/projects you would like to share with our subscribers?

I currently have some work in an exhibition called looking now anyone here with Brent Harrison and Wade Taylor at Paper Mountain, as well as a collaborative work with Penny Coss at Mundaring Arts Centre as part of their 40th-anniversary exhibition Continuity and Change: Future.

Pulse Perspectives exhibition is showing at AGWA until 22 July.

Following your visit to Pulse Perspectives, vote for your favourite piece of work in the Act-Belong-Commit People’s Choice Award. 

Top 10 things to experience at ART BALL Electric Dreams

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ART BALL – It’s not your usual black-tie gala. Find out why it’s touted as the event on Perth’s social calendar.

Final tickets are on sale now at artball.com.au

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NUMBER 1: 100% PERTH MUSIC LINE UP
Perth’s famous indie-pop-rockers San Cisco; multi-WA Music Award-winning synth duo FEELS and rising electro-pop stars Priscilla will ignite the main stage with epic live sets, while ART BALL 2019 resident DJ, ALSAN (Ash Keogh), will dominate the decks.

THE HUXLEYS

NUMBER 2: THE HUXLEYS
Iconic Australian performance art duo, The Huxleys, literally step right out of the pages of VOGUE and into ART BALL, roaming the corridors of the iconic AGWA building in their provocative, hyper-glam costumes, bringing their decorative absurdity to Perth for one night only.

NUMBER 3: BUBBLE POP BALL PIT
BALLS! A lot of them! A huge 15,000 litre ball pit will take over AGWA’s Imagination room, complete with stair to get in and out of it in your black-tie garb.

YUMMY

NUMBER 4: YUMMY and the TNT ALL STARS
Cult cabaret performance legends YUMMY return to Perth especially for ART BALL to take guests on the most delicious and unpredictable ride of their lives. The joy-evoking cast will deliver their signature high-camp style and world-class circus skills to killer pop-tracks. YUMMY hostess-with-the-mostess, Valerie Hex, will also MC the night. The final floorshow will be an unforgettable, high-octane collaboration between the YUMMY cast and Perth’s international cheer squad, the TNT All Stars.

NUMBER 5. ALL DRANKS ALL NIGHT!
Perth’s trendiest boutique hotel, QT Perth, will be serving delicious signature cocktails from the QT Bar. French Champagne house G.H. Mumm is bringing the quality bubbles, with Juniper Estate wines and WA craft beer pouring all night. That right folks, all dranks included in your ticket, all night!

NUMBER 6. THE SLUMBER SALON
Perth-born light artist Brendan Harwood will create a three-story interactive projection installation using motion sensing technology that triggers a cascade of neon orbs to fall down the wall and attach to the outline of the users body shape, creating a giant, neon avatar. The work will be enjoyed by the user as well as providing a spectacle for those enjoying the visual delights of the work as they sip champagne and cocktails in king-sized beds.

NUMBER 7. NUDE LIFE DRAWING
ART BALL’s infamous nude life drawing sessions return with a curious glow-in-the-dark twist.

NUMBER 8. FINE FEASTING
You won’t go hungry at this event. For the first time, ART BALL introduces the all new ELECTRIC EATERY, a lavish space where guests can retreat for some serious winter-warmer feasting. Think braised Harvey beef cheek on mash, buckets of sweet potato fries, a pimped up hot dog stand with premium WA snags, bowls of gooey mac’n’cheese and a self-serve sundae station where guests can go nuts with their own creations after visiting the hot chocolate and affogatto bar.

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NUMBER 9. GENDERMESS
Perth’s own costumed club-kid misfits Gendermess return to ART BALL to slay the stage with their alternative drag and unforgettable stage presence.

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NUMBER 10. THE FINALE
West Australian Opera star Soprano, Pia Harris, will close the night out with a spectacular rendition of Puccini’s famous aria, O Mio Babbino Caro at the stroke of midnight.

Final tickets are on sale now at artball.com.au

ART BALL RAFFLE 

WIN a trip to PARIS

Buy a ticket to this year’s ART BALL Raffle and you could WIN a Business Class trip to Paris courtesy of Singapore Airlines plus a once in a lifetime one day Maison Mumm experience for two people. If a Parisian trip is not your thing, there’s also a fantastic second and third prize up for grabs. 

Tickets are only $50 each. Proceeds from the ART BALL raffle support the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, so make a difference and go in the draw to win some truly magnificent prizes!

Wirnan

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Wirnan, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts
By Jan Goongaja Griffiths, Artist, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts

As a group from Waringarri Aboriginal Arts in the East Kimberley, we are proud to present our Wirnan Project as part of the Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley exhibition.

“Wirnan” is a traditional Miriwoong word that describes the trade and exchange of gifts from one tribe to another. The trade of Wirnan is a way of keeping each of us connected through sharing and most importantly giving each other ideas and making artefacts. Collecting is connecting to our Country to know who we are and our children and how we used to communicate and talk and understand each other’s ways. To respect and understand our Country.

When we began this project, we had the privilege and permission to listen to one of our leaders (who has now passed) talking in Miriwoong language. She spoke about how the four Indigenous tribes came together to a special place, to trade their gifts at Argument Gap.

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Jan Goongaja Griffiths from Waringarri Aboriginal Arts

It took us a while to brainstorm and to draw what Wirnan meant to us. When our map of drawings was finished, we hung it up, sat back and looked at it. We saw that we had drawn similar pictures to express Wirnan of the old and the now. So, we decided to make four coolamons as it was the main artefact used for carrying all sorts of things. Two coolamons, made traditionally from wood and paperbark, to acknowledge our ancestors from the past that walked from different directions to trade their gifts such as spears, boomerangs, spearheads, dances, songs, corroboree, ochre and traditional marriages. And two more coolamons, made with steel and ceramic, to represent our present day with similar trades, but with gifts such as food, blankets, material and money. We laid out many rocks separated in four different colours to represent the tribal boundaries. One of our highlights was going out on Country to collect what we needed for our project, to make it bigger and better, more special and meaningful.

Our Wirnan project needed more to be done, so we added a projector to show video clips and photos old and new of our people and culture. We included artefacts that we’d made with wood and ceramic at our art centre and a fire to represent the traditional dance that took place to celebrate the coming together of the tribes.

Making the Wirnan project was a big challenge for our group, but in the end, we did it. There was heartache and emotions for the dedication of two of our leaders who had recently passed away and our inspiring group who had poured our hearts and soul into this project. We can now stand proud and say that we have accomplished our Wirnan project as one strong cultural group, reminding us of how our tribal groups came together as one big family those many, many years ago.

Thank you to everyone that has made the journey, travelling near, far and wide to the Art Gallery of WA on Noongar Country as one, to share our legacies, to exchange our stories and art in different mediums. Our Wirnan project is all about this, sharing, giving and exchanging.

Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley is showing at AGWA until 27 May 2019.

Next Collective Ambassadors making a difference in Western Australian arts

Next Collective Launch, Art Gallery of WEstern Australia, 11th September 2018.
Next Collective Ambassador, Annabel Keogh. Photography by Mac1 Photography.

 

AGWA launched the Next Collective last year – a new group for young professionals who want to make a difference in the arts and have a say in the direction of the beloved State Art Collection. Propelling the group forward are four ambassadors, selected for their contribution and passion for Western Australia arts.

We sat down recently with Next Collective Ambassador Annabel Keogh, a corporate affairs professional, to talk about how she together with other Next Collective Ambassadors; artists, Tarryn Gill and Ian Strange and lawyer, Dr Andrew Lu OAM – is embracing her new role in encouraging more young people to take an interest in the arts and why this is important for the growth of the Western Australian creative community.

Annabel, you’ve been involved with AGWA for a while now. How did you become involved as an Ambassador for Next Collective?

I’ve been involved with the Gallery for a couple of years originally through the Friends of AGWA which was one of the main reasons I was asked to come on board, to look at how to encourage more young people to engage with the Gallery. When the Friends of AGWA dissolved, that’s when I got involved with the Gallery’s Next Collective program.

So, what makes Next Collective differ from any other AGWA membership and/or unique for that matter to any other arts philanthropy program out there?

Next Collective takes your interest in the Gallery to the next level. There’s a gap in the market with people who want to give back and feel connected to institutes like the Gallery but they’re unsure of how to. The average person looks at it and thinks, ‘That’s out of my league’.  The Next Collective is an opportunity to get involved. It’s also different because it’s not a passive membership, which differs from the average philanthropy program. You can be active through this program, have a say in and see where your donations go. I think it’s a more satisfying experience than your average membership opportunities.

As a Next Collective member, what opportunities will you experience?

The opportunities being explored are about connection – meeting new people, not only within the gallery but also throughout the community, and others who love art. I think it’s also the opportunity to peek behind the curtain of what happens at the Gallery. See how it works, which is what most people are interested in. It’s something you often don’t get the chance to do as a member of the general public.

 

Next Collective Launch, Art Gallery of WEstern Australia, 11th September 2018.
Next Collective Launch at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Photography by Mac1 Photography

This is an unexplored territory for AGWA. How do you see the Gallery benefiting from this new group?

I think the Gallery will be able to connect with a new generation of people who are interested in supporting institutions, and get a broader sense of ‘what is important’ for the community. It’s a great opportunity for the Gallery to reach out and ask what attracts people and what Perth is interested in and tailor their programs for a new group of people that are not the average taste. You get the chance to tap into a different vibe, and a different demographic, and I think that gives AGWA the opportunity to expand and be more innovative and grow in different directions.

Thinking of joining the Next Collective and championing the arts here in Western Australia? Contact our Foundation Office on 9492 6761 or foundation@artgallery.wa.gov.au, or visit our website artgallery.wa.gov.au for more information.

The Next Collective is supported by the Minderoo Foundation.

A lecture about a rebel or two

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“I would not shoot them as I could not blame them, they had to do their duty I said I did
not blame them for doing honest duty but I could not suffer them blowing me to pieces
in my own native land…But I am a Widow’s Son, outlawed and my orders must be obeyed.” – Ned Kelly (1879).

We all know the story of Ned Kelly; the young Irish larrikin who became an outlaw and was the target of one of the most legendary police chases in Australian history, before finally being captured, tried and hung on a number of charges, including the murder of three policemen.

The Kelly myth has been retold and reinterpreted by many artists and writers, but none as enduring and iconic as Sidney Nolan’s masterful series, which chronicles the life and death of the bushranger with both emotion and eccentricity.

On loan from the National Gallery of Australia, 26 of the 27 paintings are currently on display for a limited time until 12 November at AGWA.

NGA’s Head of Australian Art, Deborah Hart, recently delivered an insightful lecture on the series and Ned Kelly to a sellout crowd.

With humour and insightful anecdotes, Hart’s presentation into Nolan’s life and the facts of the Kelly story provided the audience with a fresh look at the series particularly those who had viewed this exhibition previously in Canberra.

Beginning her talk with the iconic image of Nolan’s Ned Kelly riding horseback through the Australian landscape, the lecture discussed Nolan’s time as a young man serving in World War Two and how this event influenced his decision to explore the meaning behind Australian identity.

“I think she gave such a good framework to understanding the series and pointing out the idiosyncrasies Nolan used and re-interpreted versus the factual basis of the story,” said AGWA Voluntary Guru Guide Rosemary Miller.

What I particularly enjoyed about the lecture was the connections Hart made between the two men. She stated, “There’s actually a very strange connection between Nolan and Ned Kelly because for a short time Nolan had been on the run like Kelly. Kelly had also come from a long line of impoverished Irish settlers and I think Nolan could relate to that sense of injustice.”

Hart also placed emphasis on viewing Nolan’s series as a masterfully completed work of art.

Sue Sauer, AGWA Member and Voluntary Guru Guide said, “We were encouraged to look at both Ned Kelly and the landscape which is an important part of the story.”

Hart’s lecture sparked fierce debate and conversation amongst those who attended. While Hart provided the public with detailed knowledge on the background of Nolan’s series and its relation to the history of the Kelly myth, she instilled in her audience the importance of this series to Australian culture.

These lectures are organised by the Gallery’s AGWA Members program and once a month for 3 months, we host a lecture series to celebrate the Rebels, Radical and Pathfinders season. Attend individual lectures or buy a Members season pass for $15 to attend the remaining two. If you have already purchased a ticket to one of the lectures, contact the AGWA Members Office at any point during the season to have that event ticket credited towards a season pass purchase.

Learn more about AGWA Membership and other upcoming events by visiting http://www.artgallery.wa.gov.au/join_us/AGWA-Members.asp

Re-Imagining History: Launch of AGWA’s Historical Collection

AGWA Historical Install LR

August 11th marked an important day in AGWA history, as the gallery celebrated the reopening of its Historical collection; part of the permanent AGWA Collection displays which spans across many time periods in Australian and international art.

Moving from the Centenary Galleries, the historical collection is now located upstairs alongside AGWA Six Seasons, Screen Space and the contemporary craft and design in AGWA Design.

The reopening of AGWA Historical offers an exciting opportunity to revisit the Gallery’s permanent collection and experience the works in a new and refreshing way.

“There is a lot of architecture in the Centenary Galleries which impacted on the display,” said Melissa Harpley, Curator of Historical and Modern Art.

“Moving the historical works into the main gallery space has taken that visual interference out so that you can see the works differently.  As a curator, it enabled me to make some interesting groupings and provided more flexibility in the placement of works than was possible in the Centenary Galleries.”

Unlike the Centenary Galleries, which is mostly comprised of long-established square rooms, the central gallery space is designed in a triangular shape, which enhances the viewing of the collection.

“What is so fantastic about this building is the fact that it doesn’t have right angles,” she said.

“It allows those visual connections which are important for art. You can stand in some spaces of the gallery and see a 1860s landscape, but you might also see a Heidelberg landscape and a Hans Heysen from 1914. You couldn’t do that in the Centenary Galleries.”

The AGWA Historical will undergo two separate iterations. The first hang coincided with another important historical exhibition, Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series which opened the same day.

“There’s one point where Ned Kelly and Historical share a wall, and we’ve managed to design the show, so the Ned Kelly work sits next to the Hans Heysen. I think there’s a nice connection between not only the approach to the Australian landscape but even down to the two men on horses echoed in both paintings.”

The second iteration of AGWA Historical is scheduled for November and Melissa said she is excited about the upcoming curatorial possibilities and encourages the public to attend both reprises of the collection.

“Looking at the works in the historical collection, particularly the ones with figures, humans haven’t changed. The works from the past are still very much a meditation or commentary on what it means to be human and what it means to be in the world,” says Melissa.

“I think people will connect with that because it’s as relevant now as it was then.”

Glimpse into the collection

Find out more about the AGWA Historical Collection visit our website artgallery.wa.gov.au

Free Guided Tours

Join a free guided tour of AGWA Historical or one of our other fantastic collections.

 

 

 

Hopetoun residency unveils a complex history

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spaced 3: north by southeast artist Gustav Hellberg

Swedish artist, Gustav Hellberg’s new work Amnesia is influenced by his time in the Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun region, located approximately 590 kilometres from Perth.

His film explores the absence of knowledge and the unspoken histories of the Ravensthorpe region, its nature, and also the people who have been active in this land. We sat down recently with Gustav to talk more about the project.

“I wanted to participate in this project because of my interest in land and property, who owns it and who has the right to land. I have also been doing a few works involved with nationality. That is a subject that I strongly question in my work,” says Gustav.

“Australia and Scandinavia have a few similarities in that both have a small population in a large land mass and a turbulent history involving the indigenous people. Mining is another commonality between the two and the terrible effects that this is doing to the natural landscape.”

“This particular project was challenging in the sense that I knew absolutely nothing about Western Australia and therefore did not know what to expect. I also did not want to go into this project with any false presumptions. As I did more research and on subsequent visits to the area I discovered that there was a fascinating and dark past to the township that appeared to have been lost over the generations.”

Gustav visited Hopetoun four times over the project’s three-year lifespan with each visit providing him more information about the history, the land and its people. His final project is made of three main sections: a video film, a video installation and a collection of artefacts together with text material.

“The reality is always complex and usually too large for one individual to comprehend. To me, this relatively small geographical area between Fitzgerald River in the west and Jerdacuttup River in the east, Ravensthorpe Range in the north and the Southern Ocean in the south, is overwhelmingly large. So is its entire history, as well as the history of people that have lived here for thousands of years.”

“I hope my work will help us to remember and to create a sustainable life for the future in Hopetoun, Ravensthorpe, Western Australia and anywhere.”

Gustav will share more about his time on the spaced 3: north by southeast project and the community collaboration involved in the upcoming free event In conversation with spaced 3 – Panel Discussion” on the 18 August. 

spaced 3: north southeast is organised by the WA-based International Art Space.

You can also read more about his journey by visiting Gustav’s blog.

Toast farewell to the Corsini Collection at an exclusive dinner event

 

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Toast farewell to Corsini this weekend. Photo by Jessica Wyld Photography & Ed Fetahovic

On Saturday 16 June, toast farewell to the Corsini Collection over a magnificent Italian feast.

Renowned winemaker, Juniper, Margaret River, has matched their award-winning wines to a five-course degustation menu that features fresh and innovative Italian cuisine.

Hal Bibby of Juniper, Margaret River says, “Our chief Winemaker, Mark Messenger has selected across our range to pair with the menu designed by Faith Nichols from Comestibles.

“In keeping with the Corsini theme, our first pairings are with two Fianos, an Italian white variety made in differing styles. The gold medal-winning Juniper Small Batch Fiano 2017 which is a vibrant and refreshing style will complement the delicate components of every aspect of the first course,” says Bibby.

“The Higher Plane Fiano 2017– also a gold medal winner – is a more complex wine that will amplify the flavours in the delicate risotto and chicken brodo superbly, its sapidity echoing the accompanying garnishes.”

“Our third course matching challenges convention, but should be sensational. We are pairing our Gold medal winning Juniper Estate Semillon 2007 with the honey glazed loin of lamb, as bottle age has magnified the richness in this wine to make it the perfect foil to the various elements in this dish with its body and honied development.”

“The softness, depth and breadth of the flavour of the Juniper Estate Shiraz 2012 will pull together the various components of the chicken dish magnificently.”

“Our final pairing features a dish that could not be more appropriate for the Juniper Estate Cane Cut Riesling 2017. It is made to retain acidity to corset the sweetness in the wine so that it is clean and refreshing.”

Limited to only 50 seats, this superb send-off will be set in the Corsini exhibition entrance, surrounded by immersive palace photo backdrops – steps away from the prized collection.

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Be in the draw to win a Gallery hamper valued at $250

Guest will have exclusive private access to the exhibition with AGWA Guru Guides on hand for insights into the works of art.

Stefano Carboni, AGWA Director, says, “This is a unique way to experience the exhibition and immerse yourself in Italian culture. The first event was a sell-out success, and I know interest is high in this second more intimate opportunity.”

It’s a brilliant way to say ciao to your favourite works in the Corsini Collection.

Every ticket purchased will also go into the draw to win an amazing Gallery hamper valued at $250 and features two bottles of wine from Juniper, Margaret River, Corsini inspired gifts and beautifully illustrated hardcover Italian themed catalogues.

Book your tickets here.

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On arrival
Juniper Estate Blanc de Blanc 2015

Course one
A dainty dish of preserved zucchini flavoured with lemon zest and fresh oregano,  accompanied by burrata and finely sliced Cerignola olives
Matched with Juniper Small Batch Fiano 2017

Course two

A delicate risotto cooked in Fiano and chicken brodo garnished with freshly grated parmigiana reggiano and crisped sage leaves
Matched with Higher Plane Fiano 2017

Course three
Honey glazed loin of lamb poached in a little dry white wine served with braised fennel and the drizzle of the poaching liquid
Matched with Aged Juniper Estate Semillon

Course four
Breast of Mahogany Creek Chicken in a citrus juniper marinade accompanied with a shallot chestnut Vin Santo sauce served with kipfler potatoes and grilled radicchio
Matched with Aged Juniper Estate Shiraz 2012

Course five
Chilled Lemon cream garnished with chopped candied lemon peel, berries icing sugar and lemon biscuits
Matched with Juniper Estate Cane Cut Riesling 2017

Course six to accompany coffee
Amaretti , nougat and candied fruits

 

Guru Guides Reflect on the Corsini Collection

As A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection exhibition comes to a close on the 18 June, we catch up with Voluntary Guru Guides Stephanie Watson and Louise Gillett to find out which work was their favourite and what they’ve enjoyed most about the exhibition.

Louise Gillett

Guiding the Corsini has been an exciting ride. To date, I have conducted 18 public tours with four more to go before the show finishes. Researching and preparing has been hugely interesting and I learn more with each tour as patrons ask questions and provide opinions.

Guru Guide Louise Gillett sharing her insights on Botticelli’s Madonna and Child

My favourite work?

The Botticelli, of course! To witness Botticelli’s poignant intention to suggest the Crucifixion in a work depicting Christ as an infant, is very moving. The rendering in tempera with all of the attendant precision and expertise seems to exemplify the artist’s deep Christian conviction, a desire to assert belief in the face of rampant humanism. The classical restraint, beauty and symmetry of those faces- breathtaking! It is always rewarding to guide this work; to provide the Christian explanation to patrons who are not aware of it and to witness the knowing nods of those who are familiar with the narrative and symbolism. This sharing of knowledge and experience in front of great art is what drives me as a Guide.

Stephanie Watson:

My favourite work:
While Botticelli’s touching painting “Madonna and Child with Six Angels” is undoubtedly the star of the show, I am also drawn to Giovanni Santi’s modest work. For me, its evocation of “Birth of Venus” relates to one of the world’s great artistic treasures.

Giovanni Santi’s painting of the Muse of History, Clio, shows her not with her traditional scroll, but enveloped in the gorgeous, swirling drapery of her beautiful blue gown. Fittingly, blue was the most expensive of paint pigments. Her hair floats behind her, echoing not only the movement of her dress but also the trees in the background.

Giovanni Santi (Colbordolo 1435-Urbino 1494) Clio from The Muses circa 1480-90. Tempera on board, 820 x 390mm. Florence, Galleria Corsini

A hallmark of the Renaissance is the device of framing; here rocks and vegetation surround the central image. Another was a renewed interest in the classical world, which interestingly, sat comfortably with the deeply religious mood of the time. Clio’s almost bare feet reflect the philosophy of humanism and naturalism which was replacing the waning Medieval ethos.

The ‘flatness’ of the figure and detachment of the Muse are also elements of that earlier style. The traditional medium of egg tempera on wood panel soon to be overtaken by the new material of oil on linen has also been used. Giovanni’s far more famous son Raphael began his education in the studio of his father at the Palazzo of the Duke of Urbino. While his soaring talent soon outstretched his father’s, this painting can still charm us with its beauty.

A special moment in one of my tours was the texting conversation between one of the visitors to the exhibition and her cousin who was at work in the Palazzo Corsini in Florence at that very moment, bringing extra life to this wonderful exhibition.

 

Corsini Opening Day - A Florentine Festival Day

With so many stories behind each work, our fantastic guides have captured the imagination of over 30,000 visitors since the opening of the exhibition. We thank them for their amazing work.

Why the classical world was attractive to Europe in the fifteenth century

 

Prometheus
Traditionally attributed to Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-London 1641) Prometheus and the Eagle early 17th century (detail). Oil on canvas, 1100 x 1610mm. Galleria Corsini, Florence.

 

The oldest paintings from the Corsini Collection currently on display are by Giovanni Santi and date from the late 1400s. They feature the Olympian god Apollo and three of the Muses. Other paintings on display also feature subjects drawn from Greek mythology, such as del Mazziere’s panel based on the Roman poet Ovid’s account in his Metamorphoses, and Rombouts’ confronting image of Prometheus and the Eagle.  At the time that they were painted, these images were being made by artists for patrons who were also commissioning paintings of more traditional Christian subject matter, portraits, and genre scenes.

So why was the classical world attractive to Europe in the fifteenth century? Perhaps some answers can be found in a closer examination of these paintings.

Santi’s paintings of Apollo and the Muses were once part of a larger decorative cycle commissioned by the Duke of Urbino for one of two small ‘temples’ within the ducal palace. The other ‘temple’ was the Duke’s private chapel, and this proximity of Christian and pagan imagery is revealing. Together the two spaces make manifest the Duke’s spirituality, his learning, and the importance of the balance between the active and contemplative life for a ruler.

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Exhibition: A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence featuring works by Giovanni Santi The Muses circa 1480-90. Florence, Galleria Corsini.

 

Ovid’s Metamorphoses was a popular source of subject matter for Renaissance artists in Italy. Here, del Mazziere has depicted the tales of Apollo and Daphne and Narcissus in the one panel. We see Daphne changing into a laurel tree in order to escape Apollo’s attention, and Narcissus lying dead by the pool – the victim of his own vanity. The artist is clearly captivated by the idea of profane, rather than sacred, love and uses the tales of Ovid to warn of the dangers of unrequited love.

VASARI ATTRIBUITO A DONNINO ANDREA - Scena mitologica
Antonio di Donnino del Mazziere (Florence late 15th century-1547) Mythological Scene (Fables of Apollo, Daphne and Narcissus) early 1520s. Oil and gold on board, 300 x 430mm. Florence. Galleria Corsini.

The warnings of Greek myth was also used as a subject by Rombouts in his depiction of Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from the gods on Mount Olympus and gave it to humans. For this transgression he was punished by Zeus and his fate was to have his liver torn out by an eagle (the emblem of Zeus). But his wounds healed overnight, and so this torture was repeated daily until he was rescued by Heracles, the son of Zeus.