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See Streeton, Roberts, Rubens, Van Gogh and Indigenous in a New Light
Grand Courts, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Photograh: Jenni Carter.

SYDNEY.- The Art Gallery of New South Wales Grand Courts, home to Rubens, Van Gogh, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Hogarth, Delacroix, Leighton, Constable, Gainsborough and Australian artists, Roberts, Streeton, McCubbin, Lambert, Bunny, Phillips Fox, Gruner and Ashton, will re-open to the public in ‘grand’ style on the Gallery’s open weekend (September 12 & 13) with more than 50 free events.

Some of the most significant and iconic paintings in the world hang permanently on the walls of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the thirteen grand old courts. These rooms were the very first rooms of the gallery to be built in 1897 in typically grand Victorian style and scale.

These elegant rooms house Sydney’s premier collections of both European art, from the Renaissance to Impressionism and Australian art, from colonisation to the end of the nineteenth century. It’s also the area where some of the greatest Australian artists walked. Roberts, Streeton and the young George Lambert must have been proud to find on show the first official recognition of their achievement by any state art gallery.

The Grand Courts have gone through major refurbishment, resulting in more works on the walls, more sculptures and for the first time in 50 years, work by the First Australians will feature alongside the gallery’s colonial collection. The majestic Pukumani grave posts made by Indigenous artists from the small Tiwi community on Melville Island were removed more than 50 years ago from the Grand Courts. These 17 poles, the centre piece of the gallery’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection, will take pride of place back in the Grand Courts. Accompanying these sculptures will be similar period bark paintings from across the Arnhem Land region.

There will be a larger display of Australian sculpture ranging from the mid 19th to early 20th centuries. Amongst the works exhibited are a superb group of sculptures by Bertram Mackennal, the first significant Australian-born sculptor, who achieved exceptional success in Paris and London in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The ‘new’ Grand Courts, will house more than 300 paintings. Favourites including Tom Roberts’ Bailed Up (1895) and The Golden Fleece (1894), Elioth Gruner’s Spring Frost (1919), Arthur Streeton’s Fire's on (1891), Poynter’s The Queen of Sheba visiting the Court of King Solomon (1890) and Leighton’s Cymon and Iphigenia (1884) will be seen in a new light.

Weekend highlights:

• Actor Jack Thompson will read from The campfire yarns of Henry Lawson
• Liz Ashburn will demonstrate traditional sculpting techniques before a live model
• Take a tour with Edmund Capon
• Listen to Flacco’s ‘FlaccODE to the Grand Courts’
• Learn to draw at special workshops for children
• Meet Simon Marnie (702 ABC Sydney Weekend) who will broadcast live from the gallery’s Grand Courts (Sunday 10am -12noon)

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September 2, 2009

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