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British Museum and Rio Tinto Announce Australian Season: Broad Program of Exhibitions
Sidney Nolan, Kelly, 1954. Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

LONDON.- The British Museum and Rio Tinto today, on Australia Day, announce plans for Australian Season, a season dedicated to Australian culture featuring a broad programme of exhibitions, installations, performances, lectures and film screenings. The season is supported by Rio Tinto and will include: Australia Landscape, a specially commissioned space presenting Australian biodiversity in the Museum‟s forecourt (in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew); Out of Australia: prints and drawings from Sidney Nolan to Rover Thomas, an exhibition of modern Australian works that have never been on public display before, and Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories, a display of beautifully handcrafted baskets, woven from the Australian landscape.

Launching the season British Museum Director, Neil MacGregor commented: 'This is a very pertinent time to be examining Australian culture through the unifying topic of landscape. The Museum is very grateful to Rio Tinto for allowing us to host these three exhibitions and an extensive public programme highlighting the extraordinary diversity of Australia.'

Jan du Plessis, Chairman, Rio Tinto said: "Rio Tinto is proud to sponsor the British Museum‟s Australian Season, which is a celebration of Australian culture in the UK. We welcome the opportunity to help share the great cultural contribution of Indigenous Australians and the importance of biodiversity with the millions of people visiting the British Museum this year.

As a company headquartered in the UK, but with many employees and operations in Australia, we have strong connections with both countries. The themes and motivation of Australian Season resonate strongly for us."

Australia Landscape: Kew at the British Museum
21 April – 16 October 2011
Admission free, British Museum Forecourt

Australia Landscape is the fourth landscape in a five-year partnership programme involving the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which celebrate the shared vision of both institutions to strengthen cultural understanding and support biodiversity conservation across the world. The landscape will transit from the vegetation of Eastern Australia through the red centre (the arid desert covering the southern third of the Northern Territory and the North East corner of South Australia) culminating with a western Australian granite outcrop showcasing unique and highly threatened flora. Swathes of strongly coloured Brachyscome iberidifolia (Swan river daisies) and Rhodanthe (Everlastings) will add colour throughout the landscape. The interpretation will highlight approximately 12 'star' plants in the landscape and make connections between the habitat and the British Museum‟s collection, as well as highlighting Kew‟s work in Australia and links between the British Museum, Kew and global communities.

Professor Stephen Hopper, Director, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: 'Kew is pleased to be working with the British Museum on our fourth landscape project. 2011 will see a glimpse of the fragile, threatened and strikingly beautiful flora of Australia in the heart of London.'

Out of Australia: prints and drawings from Sidney Nolan to Rover Thomas
26 May – 11 September 2011
Admission free, Room 90

Drawn from the British Museum‟s recently formed collection of Australian works on paper, this exhibition will cover the period from 1940s to the present. It will begin with the distinctive school of Australian artists known as the „Angry Penguins‟ and follow the main developments in Australian graphic art, concluding with the rise of Aboriginal printmaking. This will be conveyed through outstanding examples of prints and drawings by all the major Australian artists of this period including Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker and Fred Williams, together with work by the foremost indigenous artists Rover Thomas, Dorothy Napangardi and Judy Watson among others. The exhibition will be the first major show of Australian art in London for at least a decade, and the largest and most ambitious devoted to Australian works on paper ever held outside of Australia itself.

Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories
26 May – 29 August 2011
Admission free, Room 91

In Australia people made and make a wide diversity of beautiful baskets, using materials from the landscape to which they belong. Indigenous Australians are not a single group, but rather many interconnecting groups, each belonging to different territory. At the time of European settlement they had been living on the continent for at least 60,000 years, and spoke more than 200 languages. This exhibition displays an important collection of historic baskets which reflect this diversity with elegant and sculptural forms, and painted decoration. The exhibition includes many important historic baskets, such as a small water carrier from Tasmania, skilfully constructed from a single piece of kelp. Kelp water carriers appear in early historic drawings, but this object, collected in the 1840s, is the only example now known. It is the basis of a contemporary revival among indigenous Tasmanians. The exhibition also includes contemporary baskets, drawing new materials into old traditions to make new kinds of object.

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