Our last day in Sydney wasn’t even spent in Sydney. Jonathan and Penny picked us up from our hotel early for a drive up the coast to Newcastle where eighty paintings from the Laverty collection are on display at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery (NRAG), and where I had been invited to give a gallery talk.
Ron Ramsey, whom we’d known from his stint at the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC, is now the director of the Art Gallery. We worked with Ron and Lisa Slade to arrange the trip and the talk, and were excited about the prospect of seeing Ron again, and seeing this lovely gallery. The entire upper floor was given over to the exhibition of works on loan from the Lavertys, and it made for a most impressive sight.
Well over half the space was devoted to art from the Central Desert, and over half of that space to works from Balgo. The remainder of the exhibition showcased art from Jirrawun, Peppimenarti, and Bidyadanga, along with four spectacular examples of Body Marks by Prince of Wales. Ron is planning a barks show, drawn in part from NRAG’s own collection for the coming year, so that was one aspect of the Indigenous spectrum missing from this show.
Ron Ramsey, Director of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery, gave me a warm introduction.
An audience of approximately ninety (!) people showed up for the talk, demonstrating the impact that the show has made in Newcastle. Another hundred were signed up to come the next day to hear Colin Laverty himself speak on his collection and the stories behind the acquisition of many of the works from communities. Mind you, these were events scheduled mid-week and mid-day, which ought to give you an idea of the enthusiasm for both the show and the Gallery itself.