INSPIRING: Curator Josh White installs the Brett Whiteley exhibition at Gosford Regional Gallery.
INSPIRING: Curator Josh White installs the Brett Whiteley exhibition at Gosford Regional Gallery.

Double coup for Gosford Regional Gallery

TO be able to exhibit the works of an icon of the Australian art world like Brett Whiteley is a major achievement for Gosford Regional Gallery.

To show a major Central Coast-curated exhibit of Sir Russell Drysdale's works at the same time is a double coup, and the result of several years of planning.

"Both Drysdale and Whiteley are major figures in the Australian art world and feature prominently on the international stage," said gallery team leader Tim Braham.

"Drysdale has been credited as a major influence on shaping the post-war Australian identity and is famous for his stunning representations of the harshness of the Australian outback and the endearing characters who live there."

His imagery, Tim said, was considered as important as Henry Lawson's writings in shaping our identity.

Brett Whiteley was likewise considered "one of the most important artists of his generation", winning major prizes including the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes multiple times.

"His ability to create sensuous landscapes and celebrate the beauty in nature remains an enduring legacy," Tim said.

Drysdale (1912-1981) and Whiteley (1939-1992) were familiar with each other's work and knew each other personally.

While very different artists in their own right, Tim said both showcased the importance of drawing underlying great painting.

The Whiteley exhibit, Other Places (Somewhere Else) is described as a visual diary of his travels, showcasing paintings, drawings, photographs and sketchbooks of his experiences in cities including Paris, New York, London and Tokyo.

In contrast, the Drysdale exhibit, Bouddi - named after his property at Killcare - has been developed by local curator Sarah Samild over 18 months, tracing for the first time his period on the Coast, and has involved negotiating the loan of artworks from private collectors and national institutions including the National Gallery, National Library and National Portrait Gallery.

"The Drysdale exhibition is significant as it not only documents the fantastic artworks he created while living on the Central Coast, but it also shows his influence on the local community," Tim said.

"One of the reasons Drysdale moved to the Central Coast was his friendship with Eric Worrall, the founder of the Australian Reptile Park, who subsequently named a species of snake, the Drysdalia, after him.

"Drysdale was also influential in the creative life of the Central Coast, helping to establish the Gosford Art Prize in 1970 and bringing a number of important artists and writers to the region."

In short, Tim said, the exhibitions were "a unique ... glimpse into the working and personal lives of Drysdale and Whiteley and are sure to inspire many artists".

Both exhibitions are on display until February 4. The gallery is open 10am-4pm daily and there are guided tours every Saturday at 10.30am. For details call 4304 7550 or find them online.


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