On Belonging(s) – Opening Speech by Kristen Lang

2 August 2019


I think we “belong” in multiple and often contradictory ways. A single person may be, for example, an artist, a parent, a spouse, a catholic, a vegetarian, a netballer, a vase collector, an Australian-born Italian, a renovator, a singer, a cook, and so on. This one person may hold attachments to particular objects and places associated with any one and any combination of these identities. And not just attachments – aversions too.

What is clear, I think, is that we do not always know about all of the attachments and aversions we live by, nor do we often acknowledge the conflicts inherent in how and to what we belong.

Our conscious sense of belonging, as merely the skin of things, needs to be dug into, probed, explored. What are we not acknowledging. What are we turning away from. We might not include the ripped couch or the cracked plaster wall in our sense of belonging if our myths and ideals describe such things as signs of abandonment rather than intimacy. We can be blind with our eyes open.

We can be blind for a variety of reasons – over-familiarity, cultural or political bias, emotional bias, guilt, ignorance. We tend not to include Tartrazine in our sense of belonging, despite its presence around us as the yellow colouring of many of our foods and products. It’s not that our senses of self are immune to our incessant immersion in man-made colour. But perhaps it’s nicer for us not to think about the realities of our desire for it – the environmental impacts, the health impacts of our chemical play.

So what does it mean to belong? There are many things all of us belong to – gravity, the sun and moon, Earth itself, thirst, hunger, the urge for belonging, the fact of other life – trees, animals, birds, bacteria. Perhaps humans are too successful at bypassing these commonalities, these truths of the Earth, many of which are increasingly in need of our joint and dedicated care – it would be heaven, I think, if identity and belonging revolved around regard for our shared home.

There are many other experiences and objects the majority of us belong to – electric light, pop music, the principles of modern medicine, atomic bombs, consumerism, slave labour, trash, habitat loss, all the conditions of our current state of being. How do we digest and come to terms with what it is we belong to amid so much and amid such discomfort?

We’re selective. We belong in these large ways – to Earth, to shared knowledge – but we want, it seems, something more particular. In part, we want difference: I belong but you don’t. I belong, we say, to this nation, this religion, this brand, this club; I belong on this side of the wall, on this side of the water… These powerful belongings are at once, of course, powerful conflicts, that we embrace, one way or another, or suffer from, one way or another, through the stories we selectively tell.

To belong need have nothing to do with truth or kindness, with justice or equality, with right or wrong. I might belong to a terrorist organisation as readily as to a flat-earth cult or a football club. I might belong to the idea of the sun-baked Aussie battler, or I might champion the traditions and connections of Country, or I might raise my arm to the concept of an Earth where people are brief visitors in a vastly longer story of life…

There is that we belong to but have forgotten to acknowledge.

There is that we belong to but turn from for the discomfort it causes.

There is that we believe we belong to through our inheritance of certain ways of seeing, even when it clashes with our actual surroundings.

There is that we belong to in one form but not another – in a vase, perhaps, but not in its natural habitat. We belong to ideals, myths, stories, more than realities.

There is that we say we cannot belong to simply through our failure to understand it – wild places, for some, or cultures not quite like our own.

There is that, too, which we are embarrassed to belong to for its failure to meet the fashionable standards of the mainstream, of the cities, of the crowds.

So the list goes on.

In the mess of belonging, in the tangle that surrounds what we think of as our honest connections, art can draw our attention to our blind spots. Art can demand that we confess, that we reconsider, that we look again. It can encourage us to question, to find new relevancies, and to dig for that which is, we hope, genuinely worth sustaining.

I hope you will give this exhibition the time it deserves. I hope you will allow it to ask, of yourself, what it is you belong to. What are the stories inside your belongings? I hope you will enjoy, and be challenged by, the answers you find.

-Kristen Lang, Poet

Visit Kristen’s website here


On Belonging(s)

Alex Davern, Liam James, Amber Koroluk-Stephenson, Jessie Pangas

On Belonging(s) brings together four Tasmanian artists who are exploring how we attach value to objects, and the role they play in the stories we tell about ourselves, both individually and communally. On Belonging(s) is a reflection on how we construct our identity, connect ourselves to place and engage with our possessions, both nostalgically and idealistically, as extensions of the self.

Main Gallery, Devonport Regional Gallery, 3 August – 22 September 2019




Threads of Childhoods Past

Jennifer Frost and Jan Larcombe

In Threads of Childhoods Past, two artists with a shared childhood growing up in the remote area of Trowutta in the far North West coast of Tasmania in the 1950’s and early 1960’s have created art works based on their reflections of that time.

Little Gallery, Devonport Regional Gallery, 27 July – 1 September 2019


*Installation images from On Belonging(s) and Threads of Childhoods Past by Kelly Slater

In Your Words – The Robinson Project

Catalogue essay by Erin Wilson, from the exhibition In Your Words on at Devonport Regional Gallery until 24th February 2019

In Your Words grid
Photographs by Bert and Albert Robinson, from the Robinson Collection

If I was to ask anyone familiar with the Robinson Collection to describe to me what it was, I believe most would say it is a collection of historic black and white photographs. This has been the public face of the Robinson Collection over the past twenty years, as photographic prints of the collection have been displayed annually in the Gallery. However, as the Curator of this magnificent collection, I would describe it slightly differently. To begin with, I would say this is a collection of photographic negatives – because it is in fact an archive of tens of thousands of negatives, rather than photographs, from the Robinson & Son Photographic Studio.

There is something special about archives, which rouses an entirely different experience than viewing fragments of archives, already interpreted, arranged and presented in a museum or gallery. While the photographic prints can be highly evocative, I have witnessed how viewing the archive itself can evoke an entirely different reaction. When the Robinson Collection is described by the period or region it covers, or the number of negatives it contains, it is still somewhat abstract. However, standing in front of row upon row, shelf upon shelf of archival boxes each containing hundreds of negatives; holding original, yellowing Kodak boxes; or catching the distinct smell of the nitrate negatives, has a power of its own. It is only when going to the source of the archive that you can get a sense of the magnitude of this collection, both in its scale and historical value.

For each negative selected and displayed in the Gallery, there are thousands of others that have only been seen by a few sets of eyes. My interest as the Curator of this collection lies in what is hidden and what is absent, and the potential of bridging these gaps. As this collection is cared for and displayed in an art gallery, there is a tendency to treat the photographs as fine art objects – particularly when so many are visually powerful and beautiful. However, these photographs were the snapshots of the day when owning a personal camera was rare, and this task lay with commercial studio photographers. It is significant that the Robinsons were commercial studio photographers – their aim was never to holistically capture life in the region, and as such the collection is not a complete or comprehensive historical record.

However, I do not see this incompleteness as a shortcoming, but as a starting point with immeasurable potential. What this incompleteness means is that the value of this collection is not limited to the physical archive. This collection already extends beyond the Gallery’s archive. Each of these negatives existed to produce an original print, and these original prints can still be found in countless photo albums and on living room walls across the region. What has become clear to me in considering this incompleteness is that the Robinson Collection is not only an amazing resource for the community, but likewise, the community are an invaluable resource for the Robinson Collection. These photographs capture snippets of a time now passed, but the knowledge of those times lies in the experiences and memories of those who lived them.

As such, I have begun a project which aims to strengthen the connection between the Robinson archive and its community. Traditionally, a Curator will select pieces from a collection for display in a gallery, and community members will visit the gallery to view the selected pieces. My aim is to disrupt this linear approach, so that the archive itself becomes more accessible, and the gallery is as much a site for the community to share their knowledge as it is for gaining knowledge. This desire is taking form in the design of a series of collaborative curatorial experiments under the banner of ‘The Robinson Project’. The first iteration, this exhibition, is titled In Your Words. This exhibition has been the first step in connecting members of the community directly with this archive: members of the community who lived and worked in Devonport and its surrounds in the period the Robinsons were photographing, whose knowledge and memories of this period are invaluable – and need to be recorded.

As I mentioned earlier, for every photograph displayed, thousands are not. It is important to critically examine what is shown, what is not, and how this process of selection could be approached differently. As such, for this exhibition I engaged nine members of different parts of the community, and their stories, as the starting point: simple stories from each about their lives and experiences in Devonport, which will be beautifully familiar and nostalgic for some, and a unique insight into a time now passed for others. After sharing these stories, each went through the archive to find photographs to pair with these stories; photographs which then played their own role, eliciting more memories and details to add to the richness of the stories told.

The experience of approaching the collection in this way, through the stories and perspectives of those who lived the archive, reinforced for me the limitations of individual curators such as myself speaking on behalf of the collection. There are countless simple, but important examples. If it were not for this process, I would have believed the Fruit Palace was simply a fruit shop – a reasonable assumption given the window display of fruit in the photograph. Without speaking with Judy and Joe I would never have known that there was a milk bar out the back that was the place to be for local high school students on a Friday night in the 60s. Similarly, without speaking to Janice about the fire station or Arden about the Haines whistle, I wouldn’t have any awareness of some of the sounds of Devonport which could never be captured in a photograph – nor would many others viewing these photographs.

The experience of gaining different perspectives on life in the region is also an invaluable result of this approach. This could be as simple as two perspectives of the same photograph or event, such as the Devonport Show, which Bill called for 17 years, and Stephen recounted attending as a child. Or more broadly, insights into the different experiences of Helen in East Devonport, Pat in Quoiba and Jim in William Street, who despite the differences in their childhoods each vividly recounted fond memories of Saturdays spent at the Star Theatre. Each of these personal recollections are made more vivid because of the Robinson photographs, yet also bring these images to life in a new way.

As you walk through the exhibition or read through the following pages, viewing these Robinson images and listening to the voices of those who have shared their stories, I hope you too are moved by the power of these simple but beautiful stories, and see the potential that lies in activating this archive as a site of shared memories, stories and the self-representation of the people of this region.

– Erin Wilson

*The Robinson Project is a series of collaborative curatorial projects involving community members and Curator Erin Wilson

On the move

It is obvious, the local community is greatly attached to the Gallery at Stewart Street. I have been asked countless times why it needs to move. The saying goes, “if I had a dollar for every time I was asked.” The answer is quite simple. Undeniably, the Stewart Street Gallery is a striking building with outstanding features such as the vaulted ceiling, but it is severely lacking in the most practical aspects for an art gallery.

When receiving one recent exhibition, Play On: The Art of Sport / Ten Years of the Basil Sellars Art Prize, two of the crates did not fit through the door. To make matters worse it was raining. Unpacking crates on the street is not a good look at the best of times and is simply out of the question in the rain.

Stewart Street has no loading bay on the street frontage, let alone attached to the building. Delivery vehicles hope that there is an empty space out the front or risk a fine by parking in the bus zone. There are no amenities in the building and patrons are asked to use the public toilets outside. There is no storage and the entrance would be non-compliant by today’s standards. Unseen by patrons, is the cramped office environment that is either sweltering in summer or freezing in winter.

When I worked at the Gallery in 2009, a feasibility study was being undertaken for an extension. This was not the first study. Vast improvements have been made to the building, but not to the extent to resolve some of the fundamental requirements for a regional gallery.

The move to the paranaple arts centre in Rooke Street is a giant leap forward. Not only does it address the shortcomings of Stewart Street (access, climate control, storage, public amenities, etc.) it also results in significant gains in exhibition space – which is really all the patron should be concerned with. The patron does not want to know about loading bays…

Stewart Street has approximately 140 square metres of floor space and with the built alcoves out of ‘temporary’ walls, has approximately 70 running metres of running wall space. The new Gallery will have just on 300 square metres of floorspace and approximately 116 running metres of wall space.

In addition is a 60 square metre room we are calling the Creative Space. It is a serviceable space to conduct workshops, hold meetings or use an exhibition space if necessary.

I have the pleasure of wearing a hardhat and safety vest to undertake a fortnightly site-visit. It makes an arts and culture guy feel rather manly. Each time I visit the construction site I get a better sense for the space. Last week the walls were lined. Soon it will be painted throughout. Then the carpet, joinery and finishing touches.

We will open on Friday 2 November with the opening of Tidal: City of Devonport Art Award. I cannot think of a more appropriate exhibition. Tidal is a highlight of our calendar that brings some of the most interesting contemporary work from throughout Australia to public view in Devonport.

The exhibition responds to the theme of tidal coastal living, characteristic of our region. We will also be opening with an exhibition from our Robinson Collection. Our Curator Erin Wilson has been working diligently to collate a series of fascinating oral histories in relation to images from the Robinson Collection.

In Your Words: The Robinson Project contains over 100,000 photographic negatives capturing the social and commercial life in the region during the 20th century. It has opened this extensive collection to members of the Devonport community, who have explored the archive, selected negatives that resonate with them, and recorded oral histories elicited by these photographs.

In Your Words exhibition will bring together thirty photographs selected by nine members of the Devonport community, presented alongside oral history excerpts, both text and audio, through which they share their memories and stories of the region, in their own words.

I am looking forward to the move. It will bring together staff from our Gallery, Theatre and Visitor Information Centre into the one building and operation. It will result in a team of people capable of delivering unknown potential. The possibilities for the future look very exciting.

~ Geoffrey Dobson, Convention & Arts Director

Paranaple Arts Centre

Allan Francis, Baptist Church once; Art Gallery now 1987, from Homes of Devon 6: Open House, b&w photograph, DCC Permanent Collection, acc. 1987.029
Courthouse, Devonport, n.d. The Robinson Collection, R5844, DCC Permanent Collection

Thomas Thwaites: He Doesn’t Act the Goat

     When navigating the social landscape, one discovers there are certain topics that spark conversations, and others that kill them entirely. “I want to live as a goat” tends to fall into the latter category.

     For designer Thomas Thwaites, however, this social rule didn’t apply. Astonishingly, it secured him a Wellcome Trust grant to live out his dreams as a goat. Citing his angst and dissatisfaction with the state of the world as the reason for such a venture, he hoped that life as an animal would be simpler. After studying goats and building a prosthetic goat suit, Thwaites found a herd of goats in the Swiss Alps to join. After such aspirations, he found himself somewhat challenged by the experience. The suit was uncomfortable and the lifestyle physically demanding. While the emotional experience of being a goat did not see Thwaites fully entering the mind of a goat, he did find a certain peace.

New Alchemists, 9 Dec 2017 - 7 Jan 2018-17
I, Goat, 2015. Sculptural armature, digital prints. Dimensions variable, video 16:06 mins. Installation view.

     Many might view Thwaites as mad, however, his project holds a certain dignity. The desire to be a goat is deep rooted and philosophical, while his explanation is down to earth. He acknowledges the humour in his concept, but seriously explores the boundaries between human and animal. His hypothesis that living life as an animal would be better than as a human is juxtaposed with a quote in his artist statement for I, Goat (2015):

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question. (Stuart Mill, 1879)

Here, Thwaites retrieves the viewer from their inclination to believe he is mad, and forces them to think. Beyond the prosthetics, the mountains and the goats, there is a deeper answer being sought: what is humanity?  Is it an entity entirely separate from the animal kingdom? Does technology render humanity superior? Or is humanity equal to their evolutionary family, including goats?

     Each individual takes their own view with this philosophical dilemma. For some, the existence of the dilemma itself defines humanity by its thought. Others see inter species equality. Thwaites believes it is the faculty for stories that marks the divide between homo sapiens and other animals (Barkham, 2017).

     Thus, Thwaites tells his own story about living as a goat and one is fascinated. In New Alchemists, curated by Dr Alicia King, Thwaites’ endeavor finds solace with other artists who push biological boundaries. Perhaps his herd is comprised not of goats, but instead of experimental and revolutionary artists.

 – Eleanor McCormack, DROOGs


New Alchemists, 9 Dec 2017 - 7 Jan 2018-15
I, Goat, 2015. Sculptural armature, digital prints. Dimensions variable, video 16:06 mins. Installation view.


Barkham, P. (2017). No kidding: what I learned from becoming GoatManthe Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2016/may/15/no-kidding-what-learned-from-becoming-goatman

Myall, S. (2016). Man ate grass and lived as a goat after giving up on stressMirror. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/i-fed-up-life-went-7956015

Ramsey, L. (2016). This man just won a very special award for turning himself into a goatBusiness Insider. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/thomas-thwaites-goat-man-ig-nobel-2016-9/?r=AU&IR=T/#after-six-days-thwaites-completed-his-journey-across-the-alps-as-a-goat-but-he-says-hes-not-done-yet-hes-been-invited-to-hang-out-with-other-goats-this-summer-when-he-can-hopefully-push-his-prototype-further-i-just-think-id-like-to-continue-iterating-this-thing-to-get-to-this-dream-to-actually-gallop-he-said-15

Stuart Mill, J. (1879). Utilitarianism. 7th ed. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

Past & Present Tense : 20 years of the Robinson Collection

Bert Robinson Studio, Circa 1930, Robinson Collection R2735.1
Bert Robinson’s Studio, c.1930, R2735.1

Susan Sontag, in her discussion of the inventory of photography since 1839, noted that seemingly everything has been captured in a photograph. This must certainly have seemed the case when twenty years ago, in 1997, Keri Whiteley set about curating the first exhibition of photographic prints from the Robinson Collection, Robinson & Son: A Photographic Studio, for Devonport Regional Gallery. This inaugural exhibition provided the public with their first glimpse into the tens of thousands of photographs taken by Bert and Albert Robinson in North-West Tasmania, over a 50-year period during the mid-20th century.

Over the past twenty years, Devonport Regional Gallery has held sixteen Robinson Collection exhibitions that have collectively served as a window into life on the North-West Coast of Tasmania during the 20th century. Through these exhibitions, the Robinson Collection continues to be a source of intrigue, nostalgia and reverence for Gallery staff, community members and visitors alike. Past & Present Tense features a selection of photographic prints from each Robinson exhibition to date, accompanied by reflections from artists, curators, researchers, volunteers and others who have come to know the collection over the past two decades. Past & Present Tense also prompts visitors to reflect on the value of this collection, and share their ideas for the next chapter of the Robinson archive.

-Erin Wilson, Curator

Each of the images below has been selected by someone who has come to know the collection; each sharing why this photograph has resonated with them.


Bert Robinson, date unknown, Robinson Collection R1360
Bert Robinson, date unknown, R1360

‘This beautifully framed photo of Pop was taken by my father; it captures a relaxed Bluff Beach with his lifesaver mates. I’m unsure if Dad orchestrated his father’s quizzical look or pop heard noises behind him, but I love that in 2017, I am still able to access this intimate moment.’

-Dave Robinson, son of Albert Robinson


R1643.1North Fenton Street, Devonport, 1942 cat
North Fenton Street, Devonport 1942, R1643.1

‘Some of the most fascinating images are those cloaked in obscurity – such as this funeral procession along one of Devonport’s suburban streets. We can look at such images as something outside of and beyond our own reality, but equally, they permit a personal, and at times confronting, avenue through which to consider social assumptions and cultural practices. ‘

-Alison Savage, Guest Curator, Tales from Suburbia 2011


YORK, 1930, Robinson Collection R82
YORK, 1930, R82

‘The act of art making and what we respond to, that image that makes one stop, fascinates me. This image reminds me of my grandmother, her garden, and the energy she would deliver to this space.  The last time I saw her I was four. She was a kind, generous person.  That is why I remember her so vividly.’

-Lisa Garland, Artist ReViewing 2015


Rodneys Bus Line_09-06-17
Motors Pty Ltd, Russell’s Buses, 1948, R3190.6
(Left to right) Taxi Driver; J.E. (Jack) Russell, Bus Drivers; Stan Willie, Raymond Russell, Jim Blanche, Ralph Williams, Billy Marquis, Leo Smith, Gordon Russell.

‘The photo is of my grandfather John Russell with his fleet of buses and hire car. The photo was taken at the Bluff together with two of his sons and other drivers. Typical of the time the drivers are wearing dust coats. Note the stone border in the foreground, long gone.’

Rodney Russell, Robinson Collection volunteer from 1993


R4494 Car travelling along road, orchard area, 1936 cat
Car Travelling along road, orchard area, 1936, R4494

‘Seeing this photograph for me recalled Lloyd Rees’ painting The Road to Berry (1946–47). The elevation, the angle of the road and the framing of Rees’ work stayed with me as an exercise of precision and poetry, and was recalled many times in the North-West Tasmanian landscape. For me, the Robinson image is its precursor.’

-Dunja Rmandic, Curator of Collections 2013-2015


Past & Present Tense : 20 years of the Robinson Collection is on display at Devonport Regional Gallery until 27 August 2017.

For more information on the Devonport City Council Permanent Collection, visit the Devonport Regional Gallery website.

It’s a wrap

Well not quite… the end of the year sees the Tidal Award Exhibition on show and receiving great feedback; the Tidal Artisan Street Market opens this Friday 9 December at 3pm and the inaugural Tidal Festival kicks off on the 23 January 2017!

Winding the clock back to the first half of the year, key works from each decade of collecting were presented in the Forty Year Survey of the DCC Permanent Collection exhibition; new paintings and studies by Anne Morrison attracted many visitors to the Gallery and the touring exhibition Katherine Hattam: Desire First provided visitors with the opportunity to view a survey of paintings and sculptures by this renowned Melbourne artist. Evening workshops were fully booked and school groups were inspired by these engaging displays, observing, writing and making art in the exhibition space.

Images (clockwise from left): Curator Emily Kennel speaking about 40 Years of Collecting; Katherine Hattam; install view Anne Morrison: Preservation and Loss

The cold weather did not deter visitors from visiting the Gallery while the Lyons Share exhibition was on display. Featuring photographs of the famous Lyons family made by the Robinson Photographic Business in Devonport, and items on loan from Home Hill – the Lyons’ family home, the exhibition engaged audiences on various levels. Some members of the public relayed fascinating stories about their contact with the Lyons family while others shared their memories of the famous couple attending events in Devonport. Alongside this exhibition was a display of prints from the DCC Permanent Collection presented in conjunction with the Print Council of Australia’s 50th Anniversary. A highlight of the exhibition was a series of prints by Bea Maddock [b1934, d2016].

The 2016 Solo Commission featured large scale B&W photographs and video work by North West artist Lisa Garland. After a huge opening night, the gallery continued to be filled with visitors captivated by the characters represented in Garland’s works – and of course, many of these characters came to view their life-size portraits. Our final touring exhibition for the year was the fascinating Shapeshifters: 3D Printing the Future where the public could witness a 3D printer in action and view the many applications for 3D printing including those used in architecture, building, medicine, furniture making and art. We were pleased to showcase seven emerging Tasmanian artist’s exhibitions in The Little Gallery and were encouraged by many of these artist’s enthusiasm and level of skills when presenting workshops.

Images (clockwise from left): 2016 Solo Commission artist Lisa Garland; install view The Lyons Share; Lisa Garland twilight tour

Punctuated throughout the exhibition program have been many great projects including Reclaim the Lane held as part of National Youth Week, Four 8 Film Festival, film-making workshops, PORTAL community photography project and exhibition; various art-making workshops and talks; Books + Art monthly discussions; early years and school programs and concerts. Outside the Gallery the Droogs completed a street art project on the laneway wall of Devonport Bookshop and participated in Make Your Mark at TMAG while DRG showcased items from the DCC Collection in Hobart on two separate occasions.

Images (clockwise from top left): Droogs mural at Devonport Bookshop; Drawn Home workshop participants; Four 8 Film Festival screening; Nick Parish Trio; 1, 2, 3 Create participants; education programs at the Gallery; Reclaim the Lane; Nightscape Photography.

Of course, the foundation for everything DRG presents is mainly constructed ‘behind the scenes’ and for this I wish to thank all of my staff for their input and commitment to the arts in 2016. With a few weeks left until the end of the year we hope to see you at the Gallery to view Tidal or perhaps we will cross paths at the Artisan Street Market this Friday. In the spirit of the festive season: have a safe and relaxing summer and we look forward to seeing you soon at DRG.

– Ellie Ray, Director

Julie Fragar wins the $15,000 Tidal: City of Devonport National Art Award

Julie Fragar was presented the $15,000 Tidal: City of Devonport National Art Award 2016 by Mayor Steve Martin for her work Antonio Departs Flores on the Whaling Tide at the 2016 Finalists Exhibition on Friday 25 November. This year’s Tidal exhibition was officially opened by the Honourable Jeremy Rockliff MP at the Devonport Regional Gallery.

Antonio Departs Flores on the Whaling Tide is a richly layered painting that contains multiple images and references. The Brisbane-based artist, Julie Fragar, made the work after travelling to the Azores Islands in Portugal. Here, her ancestor Antonio, aged 12, ventured onto a whaling ship in 1850 – arriving in Australia 6 years later.

The 22 finalists and winner were selected by two nationally recognised art experts, Jane Devery Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, and Jane Stewart, Principal Curator of Art at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

“The judges were very thorough in their selection spending a great deal of time with each work. Narrowing the prize down to one recipient wasn’t an easy task, but the resulting decision will make a great addition to the Tidal Collection which continues to grow in strength and in a range of 2D media,” said Gallery Director Ellie Ray.

“Julie’s painting captures the wild adventure in a way which brings the present and the past together. The historic narrative reminds us of the continuing patterns of migration that reflect Australia today and is a compelling response to the ‘tidal’ theme.” said Tidal 2016 judges Jane Stewart and Jane Devery.


L-R: Ellie Ray, Jane Stewart and Jane Devery

The Tidal: City of Devonport National Art Award 2016 Finalists Exhibition is on from 26 November to 29 January. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite work in the Peoples’ Choice Award. The winning artist will receive $1,000, courtesy of Collins Real Estate, and will be announced at the close of the exhibition in January.


Image credit: Julie Fragar, Antonio Departs Flores on the Whaling Tide, 2016, oil on board

2016 Finalists:

Diane Allison, Louisa Bufardeci, Janet Bush, Alex Davern, Julie Fragar, Joey Gracia, Helga Groves, Katherine Hattam, Liam James, Anthony Johnson, Amber Koroluk-Stephenson, Michael Muruste, Penny Mason, Sara Manser, Tess Campbell, Troy Ruffels, David Stephenson & Martin Walch, Evelyn Vyhnal, Megan Walch, Matt Warren, Carole Wilson, Anne Zahalka



Tidal was first launched in 2004, and since 2010 has been a $15,000 acquisitive award. As a result, three Tidal Award recipients work to date have become a part of the Devonport City Council’s Permanent Collection.

The recipient of the first acquisitive Tidal Award in 2010 was Hobart based photographer and cinematographer Matthew Newton, for his digital print Moonbird boy 3 In 2012, Launceston based artist Paul Snell was the recipient of the second acquisitive Tidal Award for his work Elliptic # 201201. The third and most recent acquisitive Tidal Award in 2014 was presented to yet another Tasmanian artist, Hobart based Joel Crosswell, for his work Galaxias.

Highlights from the DCC Permanent Collection – Amanda Davies

Amanda Davies
Amanda DAVIES, Anodyne 2006, acrylic on plastic, 122.0 x 122.0 cm

Tasmanian artist Amanda Davies completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania, and works as an artist and occupational therapist. Davies’ striking painting Anodyne, 2006 was acquired by the Devonport City Council in 2010, and is a contemporary highlight of the DCC Permanent Collection.

Davies, through her paintings, explores elements of the human experience which cannot easily be communicated verbally. The expression of emotions relating to the transitional stages of life, sickness and death are a primary concern. While medical institutions and illness are familiar to us all, the experience of the mind and body during sickness is less so, and more difficult to comprehend and express. Davies’ work explores the psychology of our relationship to sickness and medical care, adopting the body as the primary site of this discussion.

For Davies, ‘the body stands as a vehicle for the process of ‘transformation’ – blurring the boundary between concealing and revealing, internal and external’. However the absence of the body in works such as Anodyne is an equally potent symbol. Anodyne, its title taken from the painkilling medicine, shows the scene of a hospital emergency department operating theatre. Notably, the hospital bed is empty, instead hosting what Davies refers to as ‘an invisible presence’. This presence offers an ambiguous narrative; a staged-scene to be completed by the viewer’s own thoughts or projections. The empty bed may have been vacated by someone recently deceased, someone recently recovered, or be awaiting its next patient. In this way Anodyne highlights both the universal and transitional aspects of sickness, in an environment where this reflective pause is often not possible.

Anodyne, like many of Davies’ works, has a strong performative quality, heightened by the stylisation of the objects portrayed, and the use of plastic as a material. The striking use of colour evident in this work is also a key component of Davies’ practice. She has explored in depth the ability of colours to express emotions, and at times employs bright, saturated colours such those in Anodyne as a device to ‘draw the viewer out of their own world and into the painting’.

-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections

View more works from the DCC Permanent Collection here

View more of Amanda Davies’ works through Bett Gallery or on Amanda’s website


Highlights from the DCC Permanent Collection – Simon Cuthbert

One of the three exhibitions currently on show at Devonport Regional Gallery is titled PRESS: Selected Prints from the DCC Permanent Collection. This exhibition showcases the work of some of Tasmania’s most celebrated printmakers, and highlights a continuing fixation of many Tasmanian artists on the natural environment as a core consideration in their work.

Three Simon Cuthbert photographs held in the Devonport City Council’s Permanent Collection, The Problem with Concrete (2002), Washington Hotel (2003) and Mirror Mirror (2003) provide an interesting contrast to the prints showcased in PRESS, as they find their subject in arguably lesser-explored urban environments.

Simon Cuthbert is a Hobart based visual artist who studied Photography at the Queensland College of Art before relocating to Tasmania, where he studied a Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) at the University of Tasmania. Cuthbert has referred to his innate desire to photograph, and to present his work in a fine art context, where documentary photography is valued as presenting more than a purely objective perspective. He has also in the past expressed his belief that photographs have the potential to incite change by arousing new thoughts and acting as a catalyst for discussion and the exchange of ideas.

Cuthbert often explores this potential through his photography of architecture and public spaces in urban areas which often appear neglected, or simply unnoticed by those who pass by. Non-permanent states of buildings and streetscapes are often the subject, with the use of these functional spaces often subtly alluded to, rather than directly captured. Cuthbert often frames the image in a way that decontextualises the space, instead revealing the visual patterns and abstract qualities to be found in our urban environments.

Cuthbert 2007.007
Simon Cuthbert, The Problem with Concrete 2002, colour photograph, 78.0 x 90.0 cm

These qualities are evident in each of Cuthbert’s photographs held in the DCC Permanent Collection, such as The Problem with Concrete (2002) which depicts a typical multi-level car park, with a degree of detail that presents the structure as a composition reminiscent of an abstract painting. Four squares of paint can be seen on the building – swatches which give a hint of passing time, process and human intervention in a utilitarian space which we wouldn’t usually give a second thought.

Cuthbert 2007.008
Simon Cuthbert, Washington Hotel 2003, colour photograph, 99.3 x 80.3 cm

Washington Hotel (2003) captures a similarly homogeneous building in an abstracted way. Little is known about the hotel other than its potential location, alluded to through the title, as the image captures 18 floors of undisrupted uniformity. As with the paint swatches in The Problem with Concrete, a human presence is only subtly alluded to through the slight variations in the window coverings, which may exist or may be a trick of light. The Washington Hotel is actually located in Shinjuku in Tokyo, and was the site of interior scenes from Sophia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation, shot in 2003, the same year as Cuthbert’s photograph. Cuthbert has said that Tokyo is “without a doubt, the most compelling, beguiling and otherworldly environment I have ever experienced”.

Cuthbert 2007.009
Simon Cuthbert, Mirror Mirror 2003, colour photograph, 103.0 x 84.0 cm

Unlike the perspective in Washington Hotel and The Problem with Concrete, Mirror Mirror (2003) adopts a more familiar scale. However the photograph has an uncanny sensation to it as it is again devoid of a figure, where it seems intuitive that someone, likely the photographer, should be captured in the reflection of the mirror. The work alludes to our narcissistic tendencies, as we are also denied any glimpse of our own reflection in the mirror. The unvarying tiles also evoke a sense of the coldness and uniformity, along with a geometric abstraction that aligns with Washington Hotel, despite the space in Mirror Mirror feeling as though it should be more intimate.

Each of these works reflects Cuthbert’s conviction that photographs are able to convey information beyond their literal representations. Our intuitive responses, and contemplation of the circumstances surrounding both the photographs’ subject and production, are drawn out through this unique approach to the selection and framing of his subjects. Cuthbert’s abstraction and simplification of familiar but often overlooked elements of our surrounds stimulates a reconsideration of how we look at and interact with our urban environments.

-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections


PRESS: Selected Prints from the DCC Permanent Collection is on show at Devonport Regional Gallery until Sunday 7 August 2016.

Featured artists: Raymond Arnold, Vivienne Breheney, Tim Burns, Denise Campbell, Rodney Ewins, Christine Hiller, Bea Maddock, Susan Pickering, Michael Schlitz and Philip Wolfhagen

View more works from the DCC Permanent Collection here

You can see more of Simon Cuthbert’s work here

Something New, Something Blue

Our guest curator, Emily Kennel shares her thoughts on the exhibition Something New Something Blue: New and Earlier Works of the Permanent Collection (18 July – 30 August 2015):

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

Most English speakers will know some, if not all of this old adage. The rhyme has become synonymous with weddings and their ritualistic focus on the bride’s inclusion of all four elements in (her) apparel to invite good luck. The line ‘something blue’ was understood in its literal sense prior to the late 19th century, with many wedding dresses or accessories being blue. Queen Victoria’s choice of a white wedding gown changed popular opinion and sparked the ongoing trend towards the white wedding dress. Despite changes in trends, the association with the colour blue and virtue remains indicative of complex relational connections between colours and certain psychological impacts.

Something Blue

Informal linguistic and emotional associations with the colour blue at times seem endless and even conflicting. A person feeling blue is rather depressed or sad, while a person looking blue is perhaps cold or struggling for breath. A blue movie indicates a sexual or pornographic focus, just as a blue joke or blue story points towards lewd or indecent content. Within the Australian vernacular the word blue can mean almost anything including an argument or fight, a mistake, a redhead, or the supporter of a certain political group or sports team. While the list continues, two common associations stand in contradiction – a feeling of melancholy or sadness and a state of calm relaxation.

Brian Sollors, Searoad Mersey_Dockside_pigment print on archival paper, 37x110cm

Brian Sollors, Searoad Mersey Dockside, 2015, pigment print on archival paper

Something New

The Gallery recently acquired works by Ilona Schneider, Brian Sollors, Troy Ruffels and Lisa Garland following the success of the ReViewing exhibition. The works collectively speak volumes of the fascinating history of the Gallery and its Collection; the city and its surrounds. Each artist was invited to study the Robinson Photographic Collection and find inspiration to create a new series of work. The works were then displayed alongside their historical inspirations, effectively making new of the old.

oel Crosswell with his work Galaxias, 2014, ink on paper

Joel Crosswell’s five-panel drawing Galaxias was selected as the winning work in the acquisitive Tidal: City of Devonport Art Award. It is an impressive flirtation with the world of the macabre and the way daily life may flit between dullness and extinction in an instant. The Clarence Galaxias is a species of endangered fish found in the Skullbone Plains area of Tasmania. They have been endangered mainly through human interference that has removed the bulk of waterside vegetation that pumps oxygen into the water. In desperation, the galaxias has established the unusual habit of jumping from the water to collect oxygenTidalExhibition_Opening_12-12-2014-73 through their skin.  This sense of desperation in the brawl of life is prominent in Crosswell’s oeuvre and is echoed in older works from the Collection selected for this exhibition.

Something New Something Blue also features work by Colin Langridge, Owen Lade and Jens Waldenmaier among others.

Image: Emily Kennel (left) with Devonport Regional Gallery Director Ellie Ray

Extract from: Kennel, Emily. 2015. Something New Something Blue ISBN: 978-0-9942474-1-4