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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Art Gallery of NSW Together in Art

Learn to draw a face with Ben Quilty, make a Dadaist poem with Tony Albert and watch Ngaiire sing in an empty exhibition space — all in the Gallery's new, uplifting online art space.
By Emma Joyce
April 22, 2020
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Art Gallery of NSW Together in Art

Learn to draw a face with Ben Quilty, make a Dadaist poem with Tony Albert and watch Ngaiire sing in an empty exhibition space — all in the Gallery's new, uplifting online art space.
By Emma Joyce
April 22, 2020
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Sometimes it takes a crisis to appreciate the little things in life — for example, what feels like to watch an acrobatic fly twizzle a matchstick with perplexing grace and accuracy. In 'normal times' we might have missed this moment of joy, but now, thanks to the Art Gallery of New South Wales' digital portal the three-minute archival film has lifted our spirits giving us an intriguing escape from 2020.

"Optimism through art" is the aim of the new Together in Art digital space on the AGNSW website, says Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand. It contains bite-sized art experiences that you didn't know you needed, but will capture your attention and give you something beautiful, inspiring, unsettling or unusual to hook onto — even for a short while.

You can watch painter Ben Quilty and his daughter Livvy show you how to draw a face, artist Nell has an amusing and hopeful three-minute video on how to solve a problem (below), and there are clips of singers Sarah Belkner and Ngaiire performing in empty exhibition spaces. It's a digital gallery where you can actively learn, or simply tune into something more transportive than the latest Tik Tok track doing the rounds.

The Art Gallery itself is closed to the public in line with the government's social distancing advice, and this means even the most regular visitors may have missed current exhibitions such as Shadow catchers or Under the stars, which opened just prior to the lockdown. You can explore the themes of these exhibitions in video interviews and tours. And, especially for Together in Art, there are Pocket Exhibitions put together by the Gallery's curators — such as Working from home: a Dog's perspective, a micro series of dog portraits and photographs compiled in a brief slideshow.

Those looking for projects should make a beeline for the series of art-making classes from various artists in their studios. Though some of the videos are geared towards kids, there's a lot of accessible art tips that are just as appealing to adults. Our pick for a weekend project is learning how to turn your old magazine pile into a Dada poem with contemporary artist Tony Albert and his niece.

The Gallery plans to add to its Together In Art series every day, and you can follow its program across social media pages, Youtube and on the Gallery's website.

Images: 1. Musician Joji Malani performs in the Grand Courts at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 2–3. Singer Sarah Belkner performs a vocal improvisation with herself in the exhibition 'Shadow catchers'. 4. Ngaiire performs in the Australian Galleries. All photography: Matt McGuigan, Hospital Hill.

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