image: inside Ballets Russes exhibition
Issue 143 | February 2011
01 Ballets
Russes ON NOW

Ballets Russes closes 20 March 2011, the costumes retiring from the stage for the foreseeable future so make sure you see it. Coincide your visit with a musical performance or event and make the most of a summer visit to Canberra.

Explore the website to watch original footage and an introductory video.


Sunset Sessions  
A series of free concerts and performances.
Saturday 5 February
Evgeny Ukhanov, virtuoso pianist.
Saturday 12 February
The Griffyn Ensemble, performing ballet music by Debussy, Stravinsky and more.
Saturday 19 February
Gypsy world-fusion band Lolo Lovina presents Eastern European gypsy tunes, French cabaret and the Latin tango
Saturday 26 February
24-piece Sydney Balalaika Orchestra.


Friday 18 February 6.00 pm 
$25, $20 | bookings 02 6240 6528
A diverse dance program inspired by Suraya Hilal and Wassily Kandinsky based on traditional dance from Egypt.

Bluebird and 120 birds  
Thursday 24 February 7.00 pm 
$35, $30 (includes refreshments) | bookings 02 6240 6528
Liz Lea, Artistic Director, Canberra Dance Theatre, presents her stunning solo performance Bluebird, weaving through the Gallery’s Australian Garden before the audience joins her for 120 birds, a foray into dance history and the wonderful world of touring dance companies of the 1920s and 1930s—described by The Guardian as a ‘dance fantasy’.

Surprisingly UnRussian!
Music for the Ballets Russes

Wednesday 2 March 6.00 pm | $10, $8 | bookings 02 6240 6528
The Ballets Russes took musical inspiration from all over Europe. Join piano virtuoso and composer Larry Sitsky AM for a concert of surprisingly non-Russian piano music.

Darcey Bussell and Rafael Bonachela in conversation: collaboration, creativity and choreography
Thursday 10 March 12.00 – 2.00 pm | $90, $80 members | bookings 02 6240 6528
Luncheon with Darcey Bussell, world-renowned prima ballerina, and Rafael Bonachela, dynamic Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Company. 

image: EO Hoppé Cleopatra - Madame Fedorova 1913EO Hoppé Cleopatra - Madame Fedorova 1913 (detail)
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 1983

Image above: Inside Ballets Russes: the art of costume

image: Liz Lea Liz Lea
02 On now

Anton Bruehl's photography In the spotlight finishes 6 February, then it will travel to Alice Springs. Childrens exhibition Connections continues until May 2011. And if you haven't yet seen Space invaders: australian . street . stencils . posters . paste-ups . zines . stickers make sure you see the first street art exhibition in a major gallery before it closes on 26 February 2011 and travels to Queensland.

Australian portraits: 1880–1960 opens in Queensland on 29 January at the UQ Art Museum, University of Queensland.
See all travelling exhibitions

Varilaku: Pacific Arts from the Solomon Islands opens 26 February.

image: George W Lambert Chesham Street 1910 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1993 George W Lambert Chesham Street 1910 (detail) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1993.
Part of Australian portraits: 1880–1960
Image Credit: Amy Dobos
03 Event
highlights Go to calendar
for all events
and details

The Sculpture Bar
Open every summer Friday night from 5.00 pm in the Sculpture Garden, in association with Veuve Clicquot. This week's entertainment is Frank Madrid + Jonty Hall (trumpet).

Masterclass in Persian miniature painting  
12 &13 February 10.30 am – 4.30 pm | $240, $210 (includes materials) | bookings 02 6240 6528
Enjoy a weekend of Persian miniature painting with Hossein Fallahi, Persian master artist, from Isfahan in Iran. For experienced artists.

Win tickets to Live at the Sculpture Garden
Scroll down to section 07 to go in the draw for two tickets.
image: Starry Nights 2010
04 Sculpture Garden Sunday 6 March 2011

A day of creative community fun in the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Australia. Drop-in workshops are designed for children and their families, are free of charge and all materials are provided.
More information and photos from previous years

image: children at Sculpture Garden Sunday
05 Meet the curator

Dr Robert Bell AM has been the Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the National Gallery for 10 years and has most recently curated Ballets Russes: the art of costume, which is currently showing.

What are you most proud of achieving in the Ballets Russes exhibition?
To have been able to get so many of the costumes on display in the round in a theatrical setting, as they would have been experienced by Ballets Russes’ original audiences. Also, to have had the opportunity to research the Gallery’s extraordinary collection of these costumes and celebrate it by publishing our most extensive and richly-illustrated catalogue yet on the Ballets Russes.

What is the most fragile work you have encountered?
The most fragile work was the Costume for a Squid, designed by Natalia Goncharova for the 1916 Ballets Russes’ production of Sadko. Its exquisite blue silk fabric had completely disintegrated to the point where the costume could not be handled, presenting a formidable challenge to our Textile Conservation department. After nine months work to restore the silk it was able to be shown as a complete costume again as one of the stars of Ballets Russes: the art of costume.

What has been your most meaningful moment as a curator?
Our 2005 exhibition, Transformations: the language of craft, which brought together breathtaking new work in ceramics, glass, textiles, wood, metal and jewellery by 85 major artists from Australia, Europe, the United States and Japan. Working with these artists and visiting and their studios was a great privilege. A large proportion of the works in the exhibition were added to the permanent collection.

If you could curate a solo show of any artist who would it be?
The Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala. His innovative work as a designer in many materials, along with that of his Finnish design colleagues, ushered in a new dimension of  Scandinavian craft and design in the mid-20th century that would be interesting to reconsider in our age of sustainability.

If you were a work of art in the collection what would you be?
Gerrit Rietveld’s 1923 Berlin chair. I hope I could live up to its design strength, abstract sculptural presence and its transformative spatial and material qualities.

image: Dr Robert Bell Dr Robert Bell AM, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design

image: Natalia Goncharova Costume for a squid c 1916Natalia Goncharova Costume for a squid  c 1916 (detail) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1996 © Natalia Goncharova/ADAGP. Licensed by Viscopy

image: Gerrit Rietveld Berlin chair 1923Gerrit Rietveld Berlin chair 1923 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1987 © Gerrit Thomas Rietveld. Licensed by Beeldrecht & VISCOPY, Australia

pattern detail
06 What's up

Alick Tipoti's Apu Kaz (Dugong mother and calf) 2008 is currently on display in the new Torres Strait Islander Gallery.
At 240 x 120 cm the linocut print is stunning in its scale and visual richness (detail above).

Tipoti demonstrates a masterful use of intricate patterning,
derived from his childhood woodcarving experiences on Badu Island, to represent the strong currents that flow through the Western Torres Strait.

image: Alick Tipoti's Apu Kaz (Dugong mother and calf) 2008
07 Win

Comedy . Cabaret . Music. Art

11, 12, 18 & 19 March
Enjoy an eclectic mix of artists in the stunning Sculpture Garden and special night viewing of Ballets Russes: the art of costume.Tickets available from Ticketek
In association with ENLIGHTEN Canberra.

Win two tickets!
What news from the Gallery do YOU want to hear about? Tell us what you'd like to see in Artonline and go into the draw to win two tickets. Simply email with the subject line 'win tickets' and your answer between 1 and 20 February 2011. The best answer will be selected and the winner will be notified on 21 February.
Terms and conditions (pdf, 8kb)

Photo: Starry Nights 2010Starry Nights was last year's entertainment series in the Sculpture Garden. See more photos from those concerts on Flickr.
08 Support

Support the National Gallery of Australia or give the gift of membership. Enjoy exclusive exhibition viewings, participate in members-only programs and workshops, be stimulated by engaging events and meet like-minded people.

Learn more and join

image: Ballets Russes catalogueBallets Russes catalogue. See more on Flickr