The Art Gallery of New South Wales launches #TogetherInArt

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The Art Gallery of New South Wales launches #TogetherInArt
Musician Joji Malani performs in the Grand Courts at the Art Gallery of New South Wales a Together In Art performance. Photo: Matthew McGuigan. Image courtesy of Art Gallery of New South Wales.

SYDNEY.- The Art Gallery of New South Wales announces Together In Art, a recently launched online social project providing meaningful encounters with art through an open platform of imagination, inspiration and creativity during the temporary closure of the Gallery due to COVID-19.

Established in 1871, The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney is one of Australia’s leading cultural institutions. It holds significant collections of Australian, European and Asian art, and has long been at the forefront of collecting, displaying and interpreting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Featuring new commissions, pocket exhibitions, artist projects, innovative performances, talks, interviews, virtual visits to artists’ studios, behind-the-scenes tours, inspiring artmaking workshops and activities for children and adults, and more, Together In Art showcases the diverse and vibrant voices of artists, performers, staff, community partners and the Gallery’s audience and affirms the power of art to connect people in difficult times.

Delivering surprises and fresh content daily, Together In Art dives into the riches of the Gallery’s collection and brings to life current exhibitions via filmed walkthroughs and curator commentary, as well as the stories of the people and activities behind the scenes. Curated each week around a fresh and relevant theme, Together In Art is an evolving archive of how artists and the arts community are responding to a moment of crisis.

Programme highlights include:
Together in Art Performances – short films of performances at Art Gallery of New South Wales, including Papua New Guinea-born Sydney-based soul singer, Ngaiire, performing Fall into my arms, filmed at the Gallery on Day 6 of the temporary closure (WATCH), and Fijian guitarist Joji Malani performing an electrifying improvised composition in the Gallery’s empty Grand Courts.

Together in Art Making – an ongoing series of Sunday art classes launched online by renowned Australian painter Ben Quilty and his daughter Livvy, with a quick, fun and child-friendly lesson on how to draw a face (CREATE), and followed up by ‘How to make a DADA poem’, with Indigenous artist Tony Albert and his niece Bree. Soon to come is ‘How to make a monster’ with Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran and Santi.

Together in Art Pocket Exhibitions – a series of online-only pocket exhibitions, curated by the Gallery’s team. The first to be unveiled are COVID-19 for dummies, with “your basics on how to social distance, not hoard and look after people around you because we are all in this together”, taking inspiration from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection and curated by Coby Edgar (EXPLORE), and Personal grooming: a lockdown survival guide a tongue-in-cheek exploration of works from the Gallery’s collection that “offer follicular guidance for those worried about what the dog might think of their ‘iso-do’”, curated by Claire Eggleston, senior librarian.

Together in Art Talks – visual artist, writer, choreographer and actor Gail Mabo is the first person to be featured in this series, with an illuminating interview on her new artwork Tagai, sharing the story of its creation, the significance of the constellation Tagai in the islands of the Torres Strait, and its powerful connections to her father, the community leader and land rights advocate Eddie Koiki Mabo. Tagai was commissioned for the Under The Stars exhibition, an exploration of stargazing and mapping by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists that opened just two days before the Gallery’s temporary closure to the public.

Together in Art Blogs – a series of posts relating to the coronavirus pandemic, including Art Gallery of New South Wales director Michael Brand’s examination of the challenges that cultural institutions face during times of upheaval, and how Australian art museums can serve and uplift communities as we find our collective way through the COVID-19 crisis.

Together In Art Behind the Scenes – videos that take viewers into the Gallery’s storerooms and ‘back of house’ spaces to reveal artworks and archival items that resonate with this moment. The series begins with ‘How Matisse created beauty amid crisis’, in which head curator of international art Justin Paton looks at the artist’s masterpiece Jazz and finds in it some lessons for our times.

Central to the project’s mission is Together In Art New Work, in which contemporary Australian artists explore issues of community, precariousness and sustainability in new works created for this online platform. From humble drawings through to digital animations, Together In Art New Work is the Gallery’s way of supporting and celebrating Australian art in a time of crisis -- and sharing that art with the world.

Looking ahead, the weekly themes of Together In Art will include a focus on the regions, and also a special week focused on the creativity and ideas of young people.

At a time of reduced resources and many job losses in the arts sector, Together In Art supports the creative community through the commissioning of new works and the development of new paid opportunities for artists, musicians, performers and workers in the creative industries.

Art Gallery of NSW director, Dr Michael Brand, said Together In Art shares stories of optimism through art, and, in the spirit of hope, unearths some of the fascinating and triumphant ways that art survived past times of crisis.

“This is a heartfelt and uplifting project developed by our staff in collaboration with artists and our Gallery communities. Already we have worked with some amazing Australian artists and performers to create new art that speaks to our time,” Brand said.

“Our doors are temporarily closed, but we stand Together In Art, sharing a daily boost of art with the world,” Brand added.

Addressing the seriousness of this moment, while embracing a spirit of play, the new project will adapt to the challenges of our current climate, taking a deliberately personal and versatile approach in the development of content for the Gallery’s online channels.

Audiences can experience Together In Art through daily posts across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, the Gallery website and the weekly Together In Art e-newsletter, which includes feature stories and a roundup of the week’s highlights.

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