Cover image of the review
Jo Lloyd, Death role, 2021, single-channel video with stereo sound, costume, reproduction of Elektra backdrop. Photo: Zan Wimberley

From Impulse to Action, Bundanon Art Museum and A Park is Not a Forest, Sydney College of the Arts Gallery

23 Apr 2022
From Impulse to Action, 29 Jan - 12 Jun 2022 A Park is Not a Forest, 24 Mar - 30 Apr 2022

Last week I was discussing “the canon” with my students. For them, the canon was a Western construct, which in Australia simply reflects the tastes and hierarchies of its settler society. My students were moved to raise a series of worthy questions: Do we seek to renovate the canon? Or do we instead opt out of it and locate different ways of appearing in, and making, art history? These questions struck me as having a renewed relevance in contemporary art discourse today. The weekend before my class I’d visited the newly established Bundanon Art Museum, located near the South Coast region of New South Wales (Wodi Wodi and Yuin Country). At the core of the Museum’s mission, and its inaugural exhibition, is a reckoning with Arthur Boyd, one of Australia’s most revered, and canonised, artists.

The Bundanon Art Museum is the latest development in the Bundanon Estate, gifted by Arthur Boyd and his partner Yvonne Boyd to the Federal Government in 1993. The Bundanon Estate comprises one thousand hectares of land near the Shoalhaven River (which influenced the artist’s famous and highly collected Shoalhaven paintings), and includes Arthur’s studio and the Boyd’s homestead Riversdale built in 1866. It also comprises a residency program for artists and writers (inaugurated in 1994, and in which I participated in 2015) and a museum, which houses Boyd’s collection. Predominantly funded by the Federal Government, the museum joins the small coterie of “National Collecting Institutions” alongside the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia and others. It is the only such institution located in regional Australia and one of two not located in Canberra/Ngunnawal country (the other being the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney/Gadigal country). As a National Collecting Institution, Bundanon’s Federal funding is part of a broader project to “preserve culturally significant buildings” and ensure “our national institutions continue to tell our national story”.

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