by John Platypus – May 2011
“Australian Season” is an amazing series of exhibitions at the British Museum,London.
The “Australian Season” is focused on the ‘Land Down Under’ culture, featuring a broad programme of exhibitions, installations, performances, lectures and film screenings to take place at the British Museum, London. The ongoing exhibitions are: “Australia Landscape – Kew at the British Museum” (21 April – 16 October 2011), “Out of Australia: prints and drawings from Sidney Nolan to Rover Thomas” (26 May – 11 September 2011) and “Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories” (26 May – 29 August 2011).
“Australia Landscape” is a commissioned space, bringing together two major institutions of London, the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, sharing the same vision on cultural understanding and biodiversity. The landscape is organised in the British Museum Forecourt displaying on open air Australian biodiversity. It is the fourth landscape in a five-year partnership programme involving the British Museum and the Kew Gardens. The space brings together vegetation and environmental samples from the variegated Australian continent.
“Out of Australia: prints and drawings from Sidney Nolan to Rover Thomas” is the first most important 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. The exhibition was conceived as a result of the British Museum’s recently formed collection of Australian works on paper spanning from the 1940s to the present. It begins 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.
“Baskets and belonging: Indigenous Australian histories” displays a wide diversity of beautiful handcrafted baskets and also an important collection of historic baskets such as a small water carrier from Tasmania, 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. An ongoing tradition, baskets are made using materials coming from the local territory. It is usually thought the indigenous Australians are from the same group, but instead they are 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.
The season is complemented by a programme of events, including family activities, lectures, films, documentaries and gallery talks, many of which are free.
Australian season is supported by Rio Tinto.
The Australian Season was at the British Museum, London, from April until September 2011.