Major UK art show features University of Sydney academic
18 September 2013
The work of artist and University of Sydney Senior Lecturer Danie Mellor is included in the exhibition Australia, billed by the Royal Academy of Arts as the most significant survey of Australian art ever shown in the United Kingdom.
Opening on 21 September and running until 8 December at the Academy's gallery in Piccadilly, London, Australia features more than 200 works spanning more than 200 years.
It aims to provide insight into a period of rapid and intense change; from the impact of colonisation on Indigenous peoples, to pioneering nation building and enterprising urbanisation.
Most of the works have not previously been seen in the UK and include paintings, drawings, photography, watercolours and multimedia drawn from the most important public collections in Australia.
Australia was organised in conjunction with the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.Its patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.
Dr Mellor's Elysian City (of Picturesque Landscapes and Memory) will be displayed alongside works of other acclaimed Indigenous artists including Albert Namatjira, Rover Thomas and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and non-Indigenous artists such as Arthur Streeton, Margaret Preston, Brett Whitely and Sidney Nolan.
Also selected for Australia are works by Sydney College of the Arts graduates Fiona Foley and Shaun Gladwell as well as its current artist in residence, Tracey Moffatt.
"Being selected for inclusion in any exhibition with the prestige, size and scope of Australia is an honour for any artist," Dr Mellor said.
Dr Mellor has lectured in theoretical enquiry at the Sydney College of the Arts since 2005.
Elysian City was painted in 2010 and shown in unDisclosed, the Second National Indigenous Art Triennial, by its owner, the National Gallery of Australia.
Dr Mellor says his work explores the intersection of the complex histories of Indigenous, colonial and settler communities.
"Elysian City talks about the idea of continuity and survival," he said.
"It shows men, Aboriginal warriors, around a campfire preparing for ceremony in what is ostensibly a graveyard.
"The background is actually set in an avenue of mausoleums originally proposed for Napoleon's generals in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. It was chosen to heighten the idea of a transformed and urbanised landscape.
"Elysian City is about keeping something alive; signifying mortality, cosmology and spiritual presence as part of our shared history," Dr Mellor said.
While in London for the opening of Australia, Dr Mellor will give a talk with the Royal Academy's director of exhibitions, Kathleen Soriano before travelling north to begin preparations for a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland coinciding with the 2014 International Edinburgh Arts Festival.
This year Dr Mellor's art has featured in Sakahàn, the National Gallery of Canada's inaugural survey of Indigenous art and at the Kogei Triennial, hosted by the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. A series of new works will be included in the forthcoming major exhibition Vivid Memories: an Aboriginal Art History at the Musée d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France as well as at the first Sydney Contemporary Art Fair.
In addition to showing at the Museum of Scotland, 2014 sees a major exhibition of Dr Mellor's artistic practice over the past 10 years. Exotic Lies Sacred Ties, comprising 55 works drawn from collections across the nation, will open at the University of Queensland's art museum before it tours to the TarraWarra Art Museum in Victoria, and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin.
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