Landscape inspires celebration of Australian Artwork

by Cass Art

What is being billed as the most significant survey of Australian art ever seen in the UK arrives in London this weekend.

Australia at the Royal Academy of Arts will focus on the relationship between the vast country's distinctive landscape and its artists.

Commemorating two centuries of landscape-influenced works, the exhibition will include over 200 pieces, including paintings, drawings, watercolours and photography, many of them never previously seen in the UK.

Australia aims to elicit a feeling of the individuality of the Australian landscape, while looking to unearth the intriguing social and cultural evolution of a nation through its art history.

Organised with the National Gallery of Australia, it traces the rapidly changing narrative from the impact of colonisation on an indigenous people to the pioneering nation building of the 19th century through to the enterprising urbanisation of the last 100 years.

Aussie artists have found a deep connection with an ancient landscape which has provided a deep well of inspiration, lending dramatic beauty, a source of production, enjoyment, relaxation and inspiration, yet seemingly loaded with mystery and danger.

Mirroring the vastness of the land and the diversity of its people, early, as well as contemporary Aboriginal art will rest alongside the work of the first colonial settlers, 20th-century immigrant artists and pieces from some of Australia's most established contemporary artists.

It will trace how in the 19th century an exploration of national identity allowed artists an independence to define themselves, free from the rules of the European tradition. 

That concentration on the landscape and its intricate, deep-seated links to national identity, has continued in the work of Australian artists to the current day.

Australia at the Royal Academy of Arts

In 1948, the Australian artist and Royal Academician, Sidney Nolan said of his iconic Ned Kelly series that it was “a story arising out of the bush and ending in the bush”. 

Nolan fiercely believed that an understanding of landscape was key to his work, giving meaning to place.

He said that he found “the desire to paint the landscape involves a wish to hear more of the stories that take place in the landscape”.

The Australian newspaper said of the exhibition: “It will demonstrate that Australia's artists are at least as inspired as our actors, filmmakers and writers – and that Australia is as much a cultural nation as a sporting nation.”

Australia runs from September 21 to December 8 at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD. 

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