When settlers started arriving in Western Australia nearly two centuries ago, they were mesmerised by the light, heat, long horizons, and vast expanses. By the 20th century art societies had formed, and local traditions had developed. The exhibition, Out of the West presents a starting point for visitors to explore the art made from these responses to Western Australia, through a diverse range of media including painting, sculpture, watercolour, drawing, print-making, photography, video installation, jewellery, furniture, decorative arts and design.
Vital to the exhibition are important historical works from the National Gallery’s Wordsworth Collection, which we have recently purchased. These show how Western Australia was perceived during its formation. As well as oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints, the collection includes a number of fine and rare examples of Western Australian colonial furniture, constructed using local timbers. The acquisition goldfield jewellery collection put together by Robert and Mandy Haines showcases that very distinctive local art form.
Due to limitations of space, Out of the West is a curatorial selection of work drawn from the National Gallery’s collection, rather than a full survey. Some works by Western Australian artists remain on display in the Gallery’s permanent display of Australian art as well as in the newly opened Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander galleries.
Art by artists prior to 1940 is shown in the in Out of the West: Early Days in the Project Gallery. Art by more recent artists is displayed in Out of the West: Modern Times in the Orde Poynton Gallery.