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Survey of the work of Australian artist Bea Maddock opens at the National Gallery of Victoria
Bea Maddock (born Australia 1934), TERRA SPIRITUS ... with a darker shade of pale 1993–98 (detail). Earth pigments and blind-letterpress on 52 sheets, ed. 3/5, 26.5 x 76.0 cm (image and sheet) (each). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased, 1999© Bea Maddock.

MELBOURNE.- This February, the National Gallery of Victoria surveys the career of Australian artist Bea Maddock, spanning her early woodcuts, etchings, drypoints and screenprints, her use of photo-etching and mass-media imagery in the 1970s, as well as her profound later works that explore Australia’s Indigenous history.

Tony Ellwood, NGV Director, said, “Bea Maddock is a significant artist whose works demonstrate an engagement with important issues of her time including notions of identity, place and reconciliation. We are thrilled to present Bea Maddock which is the first survey of this important artist to be held in Melbourne in over twenty years.”

Born in Hobart in 1934, Maddock dedicated herself to the process of creating and teaching, continually exploring new methods of printmaking, papermaking, book production and painting. She undertook postgraduate study at the Slade School in London, and taught in Tasmania during the 1960s before moving to Melbourne where her innovative photo-etchings established her artistic reputation in Australia and overseas.

Maddock later turned her focus to the natural landscape, particularly those of her homeland Tasmania where she returned in 1983, and of Antarctica, where she travelled in 1987. Maddock’s journey to Antarctica saw the artist fall and fracture her leg early on in the trip and she spent the rest of her time sketching her Antarctic surroundings as seen through a sickbay porthole. The geological connection between Tasmania and Antarctica and the immensity and beauty of the landscapes she saw resonated deeply with her and inspired a number of poetic paintings, prints and drawings, including Forty pages from Antarctica (1988) and TERRA SPIRITUS … with a darker shade of pale (1993–98).

TERRA SPIRITUS … with a darker shade of pale (1993–98) is a forty-metre panoramic drawing that depicts Tasmania’s coastal profile in red ochre sourced and ground by the artist herself. The co-existence of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures is highlighted through the incorporation of English and Indigenous place names of the depicted bays, inlets, and mountain ranges. Twenty sheets from this monumental work will be on display in the exhibition.

Alisa Bunbury, Curator of Prints and Drawings, NGV, said, “Maddock is recognised in particular for her innovative and evocative prints and for her engagement with universal human concerns. For over forty years, she has explored existential issues of loneliness and uncertainty, vulnerability and autonomy. More recently she has pursued investigations into the environment and Australia’s contested histories. This exhibition presents a rare opportunity to see the diversity, inventive power and technical virtuosity of her work.”

Bea Maddock presents over fifty prints, drawings, artist’s books and paintings selected from the NGV’s strong holdings, collected over a thirty year period.

Bea Maddock is on display from 14 February 2013 to 21 July 2013 at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road. Open Wed–Mon, 10am–5pm. Entry is free.

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