Building upgrades for Brett Whiteley Studio as exhibition tour starts in July

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Building upgrades for Brett Whiteley Studio as exhibition tour starts in July
Brett Whiteley Self portrait in the studio 1976, Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1977 © Wendy Whiteley.

SYDNEY.- As the Brett Whiteley Studio approaches its 30th anniversary in 2025, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is planning building upgrades to secure the Studio’s ongoing life as a celebrated museum both nationally and internationally.

Designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG), the proposed alterations and additions within the existing building footprint will address age-related deterioration, artwork conservation requirements and improved accessibility, including the addition of a lift, new staircase and accessible toilets. A key component of the capital works is a new purpose-built roof encasing plant and mechanical equipment to ensure a controlled interior environment for the long-term care and management of important works by Brett Whiteley.

The former Surry Hills warehouse served as Brett Whiteley's studio from 1985 and home from 1988 until his death in 1992 and has been administered as a public museum by the Art Gallery since 1995. Due to the building upgrades, the Studio will be temporarily closed to the public from 24 June 2024 until late 2025. During this time, the Art Gallery is touring a major exhibition Brett Whiteley: Inside the Studio to four states across Australia.

The free touring exhibition opens on 20 July at the Logan Art Gallery, Queensland and then travels to John Curtin Gallery in Western Australia, Orange Regional Gallery in New South Wales, and the Art Gallery of Ballarat in Victoria.

The exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the studio practice of one of Australia’s most gifted artists. Drawn from the Art Gallery and Brett Whiteley Studio collections, the exhibition features some of Whiteley’s most iconic paintings such as The balcony 2 1975 and Self portrait in the studio 1976 as well as drawing, sculpture, photography, collage and ceramics. Also on display will be rarely seen archival photographs depicting Whiteley at work – and sometimes at play – in studios in London, New York and Sydney.

'As we look to the 30th anniversary of the Brett Whiteley Studio next year, I am so pleased that we’re able to secure its ongoing future and the benefits it provides including the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship for young artists. The building upgrades acknowledge the Studio’s heritage significance in the Surry Hills community and Brett’s enduring artistic legacy,' said Wendy Whiteley, the artist’s wife for over three decades.

'The building upgrades to the Brett Whiteley Studio will ensure that all members of the community are able to access this public art museum, which provides an inspiring insight into the creative process of one of Australia’s most revered artists. We are excited to tour an exhibition of Brett Whiteley’s works, including some of his most iconic paintings, to new audiences in Australia and share these works with gallery partners in Queensland, Western Australia, regional New South Wales and Victoria,' said Art Gallery director Michael Brand.

The capital works are funded by the Art Gallery, the Brett Whiteley Foundation and philanthropic support.

'The Brett Whiteley Studio is a remarkable space where visitors can be immersed in a unique artist studio surrounded by Whiteley’s art. The Foundation is delighted to support these vital works to ensure the Studio can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of artists and visitors,' said Brett Whiteley Foundation chair Samantha Meers.

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