Whether you are visitor of the tremendous island nation or a native visiting another part of your homeland, Australia is rich with artwork – both public and private – that provides plenty of culture. No matter what kind of artwork or culture you are most interested in, you are sure to find something to your liking in the array of options.
Old and new
If you are looking for a mixture of classic and modern, look no further than the Museum of Old and New Art. Found within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula of Hobart, Tasmania, this is the largest privately owned art museum in all of Australia. The site continues to feature the best up and coming artists of today while paying homage to the beauty of works that will never grow old.
One of the highlights in MONA is the mural ‘Snake’ by Sidney Nolan. This work, depicted through 1,620 colorful panels displayed across a room, comes together to form a larger image of a snake sprawled out across the walls. The medium of ink, dye, and wax crayon on card uses each small image to bring to life something much bigger than itself and far more impactful.
This work by itself might make the trip to MONA worthwhile, but there are plenty more works – both old and new – to spend your time admiring while you are there.
While there are many great living artists in Australia that deserve recognition, the work of Alex Seton is something you will find in a number of collections including National Gallery of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the Newcastle Art Gallery, and many more private and public collections both within Australia and abroad.
While Seton is a multidisciplinary artist, he may be most well-known for his sculptures where he often prefers to use carrara marble stone as his medium. One of our favorite works of his is the understated nature of his accomplishments in ‘Cargo’. This displays cubes of packed clothing set alongside conceptualized steel. The bold, black lines of the steel work to compliment the intense detail of the marble clothing making this work something that truly needs to be seen to be appreciated.
Public works of Victoria
If your interest is more in the city and you would rather see artwork as you are passing by, Victoria is an ideal place for you to visit. While there are plenty of public pieces you could seek out, we would recommend two in particular.
First, ‘Architectural Fragment’ which can be found outside of the State Library of Victoria is a simple work of colossal proportions. Creating the image of an actual library sinking into the ground, this piece is not obnoxious but certainly demands attention. It may be making a large statement about the sinking institutions of humankind and the threatening downfall that looms.
For something more lighthearted, you can seek out a work of great detail with a name equally descriptive. ‘Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle’ describes almost exactly what you see. It is a bronze sculpture depicting the three founders of Melbourne. The lanky depiction of these characters seems nearly comical, but there is nothing fun about the quality of work in the statues.
All of this may only work to provoke your appetite for art. If you get a greater urge, you can also make a stop in the National Gallery of Victoria where you can look up and admire the colorful Len French glass ceiling among other works. With its public work and gallery, Victoria is a place that provides you an opportunity to get the exact dose of art that you’re looking for.
Sydney Opera House
Although you may not need the recommendation, it would be a mistake to exclude the Sydney Opera House from the list of truly breathtaking pieces of art that Australia has to offer. While architecture may not be the first art form that people think of, when you lay eyes on this building there will be no doubt in your mind that it is truly an artistic achievement.
While it is really the work of many – involving about 10,000 construction workers – the design for the building was done by Jørn Utzon of Denmark whose design was selected for the building in an international competition. Of course, to appreciate even more forms of art, you can make your way inside to catch a show in the building that was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2007. Check out Lyhpa for more information.
While this list provides a great place to start, and some of the very best artistic sights in Australia, there is so much more to see in the artistic world of this nation. If you are truly a fan of art, you will do your research to find more works that are worth your attention and thus, provide the art of Australia the appreciation it deserves.