She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism
⬤ The Ian Potter Centre | NGV Australia 2 Apr - 22 Aug 2021
They’re amongst the best and most beautiful works in Australian art—we’ll be pointing out some of them here—but any new show of the Heidelberg School is first and foremost an exercise in Australian art historiography. There have been so many exhibitions of Australian Impressionism—going back to the first one at Buxton’s Rooms in Swanston Street in 1889—that any new one is entering a long and congested field of discussion. Put simply, a new exhibition of the Heidelberg School necessarily represents an argument about Australian art altogether. It tells us as much about the people putting it on as the art itself. It’s a little like Tom Roberts painting Lena Brash playing a banjo in his Plink-a-plong (1893), included in the show. Of course, it’s just as much the artist who painted his subject strumming a deliberately stringless instrument who is wanting to be noticed here, and we might say the same of the curators of She-Oak and Sunlight.