Free Citywide Art Exhibition 'The National' Returns Across Four Sydney Galleries for Its Fourth Edition
AGNSW, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Carriageworks and the MCA are collectively hosting this celebration of contemporary Australian art.
March 31, 2023
Sydneysiders are lucky enough to live in a city with a thriving gallery scene, and every two years, things turn up a notch — when several of the city's major cultural institutions band together for a free citywide program of art. Titled The National, this biennial celebration of Australian art kicked off back in 2017, before returning for a blockbuster run in 2019 and then again for a much-need post-lockdown dose of art in 2021. Now, it's back with its latest iteration, The National 4: Australian Art Now.
This time around, there are four participating galleries — the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW), Carriageworks, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Campbelltown Arts Centre (C-A-C), marking the first time the program has expanded outside of the inner city and into the west.
All four exhibitions are officially open as of today, Friday, March 31, and will run until Sunday, June 25 at both C-A-C and Carriageworks, Sunday, July 9 at the MCA and Sunday, July 23 at AGNSW.
48 new artistic projects will appear across the four distinct spaces. Some of the highlights include an immersive exploration of migration through the lens of artist Allison Chhorn's Cambodian-Australian family; The Circadian Cul-de-sac, an otherworldly mess of discarded items like fish tanks, Tampax instructions and empty photo frames from Erika Scott; a massive ceramic piece made from over 600 hand-formed tiles by Gerry Wedd; and Nabilah Nordin's colourful and immensely textured new sculpture Corinthian Clump.
For the first time, The National will also be activating the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills, with Archibald Prize-nominee Natasha Walsh presenting her new body of work Hysteria, where she reinterprets famous paintings of women painted by men.
In a joint statement, the program's five curators Beatrice Gralton (AGNSW), Freja Carmichael and Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley (Carriageworks), Emily Rolfe (C-A-C) and Jane Devery (MCA) said: "The National 4 is a dynamic collaboration resulting in four distinct exhibitions that unfold across our respective organisations. It brings together diverse works by more than 80 artists reflecting the multiplicity of perspectives informing the art being made in Australia today."
"Collectively the artists in The National 4 contribute to broader conversations across a range of critical ideas, including intergenerational learning, community and social interconnectedness, the role of language, and personal narratives that acknowledge broader social and political issues."
To kick things off, the galleries are hosting a series of free events including performances, film screenings, talks and workshops across the first full weekend of The National, from Friday, March 31–Sunday, April 2. Head to the exhibition's website for the list of events and the full program of art that you can catch over the next three months.
'The National 4: Australian Art Now' is running from Sunday, March 31–Sunday, July 23 across the Art Gallery of NSW, Carriageworks, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Campbeltown Arts Centre.
Top image: Installation view of Nabilah Nordin's 'Corinthian Clump', 2023, presented as part of 'The National 4: Australian Art Now' at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Photo, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mim Stirling.
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