Royal Academy of Arts, London

Dates + venue

21 Sept – 8 Dec 2013
Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK


Menzies Centre for Australian Studies
Australia: Land and Landscape symposium

Organised in conjunction with the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and the Australian High Commission, London In honour of the exhibition Australia at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.


Sidney Nolan
Ned Kelly, 1946
Enamel paint on composition board, 90.8 x 121.5 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Gift of Sunday Reed, 1977

View gallery of NGA works

Beginning at 1800 and continuing until the present day, Australia shows more than 200 years of Australian art on the theme of land and landscape. It is the largest and most complete historical survey of Australian art ever to be displayed in Britain.

Australians have a strong connection with their distinctive land and landscape painting. The exhibition traces the development of Australian landscape art, which was the dominant focus of Australian art for more than 150 years. Although this is mainly a painting exhibition it also includes prints, drawings, photography, video and some sculpture. It includes works by 38 living artists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art makes up a quarter of the selection, with works ranging from one of the earliest surviving bark paintings to contemporary urban Aboriginal art. The theme of the exhibition reflects the importance of land and country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and its influence on their art practice.

The exhibition will include works by Aboriginal artists such as William Barak, Albert Namatjira, Rover Thomas, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and a number of artists from the Papunya Tula group of the Western Desert. Nineteenth century European immigrants such as John Glover and Eugene von Guérard will also feature. Works by Australian Impressionists, Tom Roberts, a student of the Royal Academy Schools, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder will also be shown, as will paintings by early Sydney Modernists such as Roy de Maistre, Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith. More recent artists like Arthur Boyd, Rosalie Gascoigne, Sidney Nolan RA, Fred Williams and Brett Whiteley are also included. The exhibition will end in the twenty-first century with internationally recognised artists such as Shaun Gladwell, Bill Henson, Christian Thompson, and Simryn Gill, who represented Australia this year at the Venice Biennale.

Visual art was the first art form the settlers developed, well before literature, music, dance and theatre. Aboriginal culture has always been highly visual and visual art remains the strongest art form in Australia. This exhibition provides the opportunity for the world to see Australians as the creative and visual people they are, and to appreciate the great diversity of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous art of our ‘wilful lavish land’.

The National Gallery of Australia is honoured to be partners with the Royal Academy of Arts in this joint survey exhibition of Australian art. All the works in the exhibition have come from public collections in Australia and Britain. Half the works come from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Other galleries, particularly the Australian state galleries, have also been generous in lending their most iconic Australian works.

We are especially grateful to the National Gallery of Australia Honorary Exhibition Circle, whose patrons have been generous in helping to sponsor the exhibition. We are also grateful to Qantas for transporting the works from Australia to London and back home. And we thank the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their grant towards this exhibition and the support of the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, the Hon. Mike Rann.

The exhibition has been curated by Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions, Royal Academy of Arts and co-curated by Dr Ron Radford AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia and Dr Anne Gray, Head of Australian Art, National Gallery of Australia.

Please note: the full list of works will be made available by the Royal Academy of Arts, London when the exhibition is officially previewed to media in London on Tuesday 17 September 2013.