Jenna Rain Warwick, First Nations Engagement Coordinator, NETS Victoria
NETS Victoria, in partnership with Benalla Art Gallery, are pleased to present In and of this place, an online catalogue exhibition curated by interdependent curator Jessica Clark (palawa) as part of the 50/50 exhibition series.
Instigated as an online exhibition with the physical and travel limitations that COVID-19 brought, 50/50 is an innovative exhibition series that sees curators partnered with a regional gallery to explore their existing collection. Jessica Clark’s exploration of Benalla Art Gallery’s Collection demonstrates fresh perspectives on their large Australian landscape collection.
In and of this place features selected works from Benalla’s extensive collection of Australian landscape paintings, each of which is paired with a contemporary work by a First Nations artist. Coupled together, these pairings consider the artists’ entanglement with Country – divulging relationships that go beyond the confinements of property lines and aesthetic validation.
Jessica Clark’s nuanced curation of In and of this place threads links between imagery and colour throughout varied expressions of the Australian landscape. Jessica writes “Every work of art painted in response to Country signifies at least two things, human presence and perception”; considerations that go beyond the standardised definitions of landscape painting.
While NETS Victoria ordinarily focuses on physical exhibitions, the impacts of COVID-19 has been felt far and wide, and as a sector we have had to pivot and reimagine what is possible. Excitingly, this provides an opportunity to work with pre-existing collections. Existing in its entirety digitally, we hope that the catalogue’s reach will be furthered by its online accessibility.
During the lockdowns throughout the country, encounters with the land became essential to wellbeing, and overall health. When the city shut down, the parks, wetlands and bush remained places of sanctuary and of reflective renewal. With restrictions, our networks of social relations were remapped online. In and of this place’s online format expands upon what was initially a limitation delivering a dynamic reflection of contemporary and archival works. On behalf of NETS Victoria, I would like to extend deep gratitude to Jessica Clark, Benalla Art Gallery, and its Director Eric Nash.
We are proud to have supported In and of this place and its exploration of the Australian landscape tradition. We see this catalogue as an invigorating and honest reflection upon the varied approaches to interpreting the Australian environment furthered by a First Nations understanding of place and country.