10 regional shows to see this summer


Considering most of us will be spending summer in Australia, we’ve curated our top pick of regional exhibitions to see across the country this holiday season. From diverse group exhibitions to conceptually vibrant solo shows, these exhibitions at regional galleries across Australia over the summer are well worth making the trip for.

Nusra Latif Qureshi, The Inventory of Noble Causes (detail), 2019, mixed media installation. Commissioned by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Installation view SOUL fury, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2021. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Leon Schoots.

Bendigo Art Gallery — SOUL Fury
Until 30 January

This exhibition, of truly global scope, features the recent work of 16 female contemporary artists that share a common Islamic heritage. Across multiple mediums, including painting, photography, sculpture and video, SOUL Fury explores feminism and the female experience across the world with dynamism and power, yet also with softness and humour. Curated by Nur Shkembi, these works offer a stylistically and philosophically diverse consideration of feminism as it continues to evolve, amid what Skembdi describes as “one of the most volatile periods in history for women.”


Robert Fielding, Alec Baker from series Mayatjara, 2020. type C photograph, 60 x 60cm. Courtesy Mimili Maku Arts. © the artist.

Art Gallery of Ballarat — Robert Fielding: miil-miilpa
Until 23 January

Robert Fielding’s miil-miilpa is thematically split in two, with the exhibition’s distinct sections addressing different aspects of the photographer’s life in Mimili Community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. On one hand, he provides an intimate depiction of his community with a series of portraits, and on the other, he explores landscape and Country using experimental techniques involving UV exposure. Also at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, until 9 January, is Linda McCartney: Retrospective, which may enjoy an extra bump in interest after the late photographer’s appearances in the recent Beatles documentary, Get Back.


Justin Shoulder, Carrion. Photographed by Alex Davies, edited by Tristan Jalleh 2019. Special thanks to The Myer Foundation, Readymade Studios, Performance Space.

Warrnambool Art Gallery — Justin Shoulder: Carrion Origins
Until 16 January

Carrion Origins is an immersive installation from Justin Shoulder (AKA PHASMAHAMMER) that was initially conceived for a theatrical setting. The ‘Carrion’ of the show’s title, an imagined humanoid creature from a dystopian future, is described as a “hybrid human/animal/cyborg” that draws on the artist’s Filipinx heritage and ancestral myth, as well as queer performance art and culture. The exhibition has a discernable historical scope yet also explores queer Filipinx futurism, environmental destruction, and apocalypse.


Sidney Nolan, The Myth Rider, 1958-59, polyvinyl acetate on composition board, 122 x 152cm. Private Collection. Copyright the Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust / Bridgeman Images. Copyright is now managed by the Copyright Agency. Photograph: Agnew’s, London / Bridgeman Images.

TarraWarra Museum of Art — Sidney Nolan: Myth Rider
Until 6 March

Sidney Nolan: Myth Rider presents more than 100 works from 1955-1966, when the great artist was in his thirties and forties, and based in Europe. In this time Nolan created works that responded to war, drawing on the Trojan War and, of course, Gallipoli. The exhibition does feature works from Nolan’s famous Gallipoli series, which he began in 1955 and continued to expand for decades, as well as his Leda and Swan series, and others. Also on at TarraWarra is contemporary artist Heather B. Swann’s Leda and the Swan, an installation of sculpture that offers its own reflection on the Greek myth.


Elisa Markes-Young, Stol (detail), 2021, Photo: Christopher Young.

Holmes à Court Gallery at Vasse Felix: Dwelling Rituals
Until 30 January

Dwelling Rituals is a diverse group exhibition that explores domesticity, everyday habits and rituals, the nuances of lifestyle, and the poetry inherent to these things. The show features five artists from various parts of southern Western Australia—Christine Gregory, Elisa Markes-Young, Helen Seiver, Tanis Spencer and Cecile Williams—working in mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography and textiles. Dwelling Rituals also examines how our interiors interact with the wider natural world, and how domestic traditions and duties have changed over time.


Jenna Lee, Story carrier (detail), 2020, pages of ‘Aboriginal Words and Place Names,’ bookbinding thread, and varnish. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Lean Timms.

Artspace Mackay — Jenna Lee Cont.ained
Until January 9

Melbourne-based Jenna Lee’s long-time artistic preoccupation has been to examine and celebrate her identity, which combines Indigenous Australian (Larrakia, Wardaman, and Karrajarri) with Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Anglo-Australian roots. In Jenna Lee Cont.ained, the artist focuses on manipulating paper into artworks, based on her extensive research into cultural artefacts and archival practices. The exhibition offers a critique of the nature of artefacts, colonial collecting, settler-colonial texts, and the way historical objects are presented in museums.


Damien Kamholtz, The spit that joins the magic together (detail), 2012, ten panel assemblage – each panel acrylic paint, oil-based varnish, collage, nails and iron ore, 170 x 610cm overall. Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery – Toowoomba City Collection 1867.9 © Damien Kamholtz.

Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery: Picture Playgrounds
Until 23 December

From Picasso to Dada to Pop Art, the idea of play has been an influential force for art-makers throughout the last century—and this group exhibition brings the artistic expression of play and exploration to a contemporary Australian context. Among the participating artists is Toowoomba’s own Damien Kamholtz, the founder and director of Play On Play, a creative collective that promotes creativity among children.


James Tylor, (Deleted scenes) From an untouched landscape #7, 2013, inkjet print on hahnemuhle paper with hole removed to a black velvet void, 500 x 500mm. Courtesy the artist and GAGPROJECTS.

Wagga Wagga
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery: Void
Until 30 January

Surely one of the most conceptually intriguing regional exhibitions taking place over the summer, Void is a multifaceted inquiry into the somewhat abstract and mysterious idea of the ‘void’, or the unknown. In this dynamic group show, a number of contemporary Aboriginal artists from across the country explore the void as it relates to formlessness, channelling themes of space, time and landscape. Curated by Emily McDaniel, artists in Void include Jonathan Jones, James Tyler, Pepai Jangala Carroll, Mabel Juli and many others.


Audrey Lam, Is Anybody Coming Over to Dinner, 2021 (still), 16mm, colour and black and white, stereo, 9minutes. Courtesy Audrey Lam and Prototype

Goulburn Regional Art Gallery — Prototype: Stories of home
Until 8 January

Curated by Australia’s preeminent authority on, and champion of, video art, Lauren Carroll Harris, Prototype: Stories of Home sees five artists or artistic partnerships address the nature of connection to heritage, home and place. Contemporary art, cinema and documentary filmmaking combine to present a multi-layered exploration of generational change, family, multiculturalism and cultural displacement. Participating artists, who address an eclectic range of themes using various modes of storytelling, are: Allison Chhorn, Audrey Lam, Justine Youssef and Leila El Rayes, Katie Mitchell and Sari Braithwaite, and Pilar Mata Dupont.


Neridah Stockley, Hermannsburg, 2019, oil on paper, 76 x 56cm. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Reid Gallery.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery: Story Lines and Hermannsburg and Paint: Neridah Stockley
Both exhibitions until 27 February

Story Lines is a group exhibition featuring Australian artists that utilise drawing to interrogate the nation’s history, challenging and distorting dominant narratives. Curators are Todd Fuller and Lisa Woolfe, with Anna Louise Richardson’s striking Gift Horse, 2017, depicting Phar Lap, among the show’s centrepieces.

In Hermannsburg and Paint, Alice Springs-based artist Neridah Stockley explores landscape and symbolism as it relates to the unique town of Hermannsburg, with all its history and fabled artistic tradition. In her work, Stockley has responded to items in the Araluen Art Collection and the Strehlow Research Centre (both in Alice Springs). The exhibition features drawings, paintings and sculpture.


Feature Words by Barnaby Smith