ICYMI: A wrap of the week's arts news

Regional Arts Victoria announces grant recipients, Circuz Oz and Melbourne Fringe launch $90,000 program to support contemporary circus, ABC to screen Ben Quilty documentary, plus more news
ICYMI: A wrap of the week's arts news Geelong Arts Centre Chair Lesley Alway and CEO Joel McGuinness re-open Geelong Arts Centre. Photo courtesy Geelong Arts Centre.

Staff writer

Friday 8 November, 2019


Apology for fake Aboriginal art in Netflix series

The British company Derek Productions will pay compensation for using an unauthorised copy of a painting by the Aboriginal artist Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri in the first series of After Life on Netflix earlier this year.

The company has also agreed to pay a fee for the use of the Papunya Tula artist’s copyrighted work going forward.

The Copyright Agency, which manages the copyright interests of the artist overseas, facilitated the licensing arrangement for the artwork, Tingarri Dreaming, which features prominently in the series on the main character’s living room wall.


CEO of the Copyright Agency, Adam Suckling, said: ‘The production company was very open to working with us to rectify the situation, agreeing to secure a retrospective license for the first series and licensing a reproduction of an authorised copy for the second series, which recently wrapped filming and will be released in 2020.’

Tingarri Dreaming is part of the Castan donation held in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, which has supplied a high-resolution photograph of the original work for the creation of the authorised copy, facilitated through the artist’s local copyright representative, Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd.

Paul Sweeney of Papunya Tula Artists said, ‘We are pleased that this outcome has been negotiated for one of our best-known Western Desert artists, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. It’s important that his work and the work of all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists is acknowledged and respected.’

Geelong Arts Centre reopens after $38.5m redevelopment

The doors have opened on a new era of creativity at Geelong Arts Centre with the unveiling of its ground-breaking Ryrie Street redevelopment, backed by major investment from the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens joined the Arts Centre team to tour the new spaces, which have reinvigorated and modernised the 38-year-old centre, creating a striking new landmark and adding to Geelong’s credentials as a UNESCO City of Design.

‘Geelong Arts Centre has long been at the heart of Geelong’s creative community – it was built after passionate locals lobbied and fundraised for a centre to celebrate local talent and bring the best in creativity to the region,’ said Minister Foley.

‘Thirty-eight years later, the community has grown and so has Geelong Arts Centre. We’re proud to have supported this latest chapter and the growth of the region as a creative hub.’

The Labor Government provided $37 million towards the $38.5 million project, which will improve accessibility through the centre and has created a new entrance, four state-of-the-art studios, a stunning new foyer bar and a creative industries co-working space spanning an entire floor.

Named the Creative Engine, the new co-working space will provide desks and meeting rooms, a lounge and kitchen where practitioners and organisations will work side by side. Creative Engine will also include a dedicated professional and business development program that will be open to the wider creative community.

Designed by Melbourne-based design studio HASSELL, the project has incorporated both old and new and has included restoration of the heritage-listed church façade and the discovery of artefacts – including a mysterious elephant bone – that trace the history of the Arts Centre site and are now on display in the foyer.

Geelong Arts Centre will host a free open day on Sunday, 17 November from 11:30am-2:00pm for everyone to experience the new entrance with tours and entertainment.

Lord Mayor to open Sydney’s new $10m library

Following three and half years of development, Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, will officially open the city's new $10 million library at Darling Square, Haymarket, this Saturday 9 November.

The state-of-the-art library is located over two floors in The Exchange building, and is designed by Japanese architecture firm Kengo Kuma & Associates.

The library houses a collection of more than 30,000 items, including a large Asian literature collection. There’s also a dedicated children’s area, bookable rooms, public computers and free wifi.

Another feature of the building is an Ideas Lab – a multipurpose space for meetings and events, and a dedicated makerspace to create, invent and tinker. The lab will offer a program of hands-on workshops and events for creation and learning using 3D printers, a laser cutter, robotics and electronics. 

ABC to screen Ben Quilty documentary

Image: Darryn McKay

Quilty – Painting the Shadows is a new documentary to be screened the ABC this month. Directed by Catherine Hunter and produced by Shelley Maine and Catherine Hunter, with cinematography by Bruce Inglis, the program documents the most recent shift in Quilty’s art: a growing interest in our national history and the dark corners of our past.

With the permission of Gamilaraay Elders, he travelled to Myall Creek in Northern NSW. On the afternoon of Sunday 10 June, 1838, 12 stockmen brutally slaughtered a group of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children who were camped peacefully at the Myall Creek station.

This massacre had special significance because it marked the only time in the colonial period that white men were, arrested, charged and hung for their crimes.

The film follows Quilty’s exploration of the subject over many months.

‘I am looking for symbols of the beauty of the place, the sadness of the place, the incredible violence of this place,’ Quilty said.

Quilty - Painting the Shadows will screen on Tuesday 19 November at 9:30pm on ABC and ABC IView.


$90,000 program to support contemporary circus

Melbourne Fringe and Circus Oz have announced Springboard – a new program aimed at supporting innovation in contemporary circus. Springboard will support the development of four new small-budget circus works – one of which will grow into a mid-budget commissioned work in 2021.

‘Australia’s independent circus artists are extraordinary but need more support to really see them swing from the rafters. I’m so excited that Melbourne Fringe will partner with Circus Oz for Springboard, supporting the development of the circus sector to really go to the next level.' said Simon Abrahams, Melbourne Fringe Creative Director and CEO.

The first initiative of its kind, Springboard will provide much-needed support to small circus companies, allowing them to create more ambitious new works, with solid market development and touring strategies in place.

Four artists or companies will receive seed funding to self-produce a new work for Melbourne Fringe Festival or the Cirus Oz-produced festival, Sidesault at the Melba, in 2020. These independently produced shows will receive guidance and support from Melbourne Fringe, Circus Oz and mentors, in order to develop an increased competence in self-producing and navigating the market.

One of the four works presented in 2020 will be selected to receive an additional $35,000 and mentorship to support the growth of the work into a mid-scale circus work. This show will be performed at the 2021 Melbourne Fringe Festival, ready to be pitched to a major performing arts and/or circus touring market.

Applications for Springboard close Wednesday 20 November. For more information visit visit melbournefringe.com.au.

Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2020-21 finalists announced

Artists Anna Loren, Maddie Nixon and Steve Pirie have been selected from a record-breaking field of 221 entries for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2020–21. This marks the largest intake of new dramatic works in the Award’s 17-year history, with entries received from every state and territory in Australia.  

The three finalists are now in the running for the drama award, where the winner receives a professional production of their entry in Queensland Theatre’s 2021 Season.

Since the QPDA was launched in 2002, Queensland Theatre, through the award, has  developed 31 new Australian plays, employed over 220 actors, writers and directors, and fostered audiences of more than 34,500 to engage with new theatre works.

‘Queensland Theatre is the national leader in new stories and new talent and the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award is the foundation stone of this ambition. This award helps us to create the next landmark Australian story, to identify the most distinctive new artists, and to provide pathways for their work and careers,’ said outgoing Queensland Theatre Artistic Director, Sam Strong.


Bell Shakespeare has announced the full cast and creative team for its first production for 2020, Shakespeare’s iconic revenge tragedy Hamlet, directed by Artistic Director Peter Evans.

Inside the glamorous court of Denmark in the 1960s, a family is torn apart by murder and betrayal. Outside, a country is threatened by Norway. And at the centre of this struggle is a young man brimming with anguish.

Featuring Harriet Gordon-Anderson as Hamlet and Lisa McCune as Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, this is a portrait of a young man struggling with the death of his father, his mother's hasty remarriage to his uncle, and the vision of his father's ghost looming in his mind's eye.

Joining them on stage will be Jeremi Campese, Tony Cogin, Jack Crumlin, James Evans, Kevin McIsaac, Jane Mahady, Robert Menzies, Sophie Wilde and Aanisa Vylet.

Peter Evans said, ‘We decided to do Hamlet in 2020 because it’s Bell Shakespeare’s 30th anniversary. It was the first work Bell Shakespeare ever staged, and what better time to revisit what is arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play?

Hamlet is an astonishing work of art. It’s a ghost story and it’s a story of revenge; a story of passion and deception. It’s fast and energetic and mysterious. It is a privilege to be working with this talented cast and creative team to place a new lens over this timeless work for audiences in 2020.’

The creative team includes Designer Anna Tregloan, Lighting Designer Ben Cisterne, Composer and Sound Designer Max Lyandvert, Movement and Fight Director Nigel Poulton, and Voice and Text Coach Jess Chambers.  

Hamlet will play at Sydney Opera House from 29 February - 4 April 2020; Canberra Theatre Centre from 9 - 18 April 2020; and Arts Centre Melbourne from 23 April - 10 May 2020.


Lee Mingwei’s Sonic Blossom comes to AGSA

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) welcomes international artist Lee Mingwei and his Sonic Blossom free public art installation, a gift of song that audiences can experience at AGSA every day throughout November as part of Oz Asia Festival 2019.

Sonic Blossom will see singers perform one of German composer Schubert’s five Lieder (songs made for solo voice) to gallery visitors. This presentation features nine South Australian classically trained singers ranging in voice and age, who were successful in auditions held earlier this year and selected by the artist.

During exhibition hours, the singer meanders through the gallery, finding a visitor and offering them the gift of song. This happens sporadically both in time and location – the folding and unfolding of a Sonic Blossom ­ - a concept that is visualised through the singer’s ceremonial costume which, for AGSA’s presentation has been made by celebrated Sydney designer Akira Isogawa.

Originally created for the opening of South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Sonic Blossom has engaged audiences at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and Museum MACAN in Jakarta.

The installation came into existence while Mingwei was caring for his ill mother. They both found comfort in listening to Franz Schubert’s Lieder and it soothed his mother’s healing process.

What's happening at Festivals

Teasers for Queer Screen’s 27th Mardi Gras Film Festival revealed

Screening from 13 – 27 February in Sydney, Queer Screen’s 27th Mardi Gras Film Festival will showcase the continuing advancement in on-screen queer storytelling. The festival also tours to Canberra, Parramatta, Lismore, Newcastle and the Blue Mountains in March after playing cinemas across Sydney.

‘As an industry the film world has really grown in its inclusion of the most diverse range of stories, characters and actors,’ said Queer Screen Festival Director Lisa Rose. ‘Each year we see more diversity and a better understanding that the audience is eager to see both themselves and others in all their fabulous individuality. It really is a rainbow of films this year.’

Five titles have been announced to date, including the new Australian feature film Unsound, told in part through Auslan and open captions; the period film Lizzie, which gives a queer twist to the life of Lizzie Borden, accused of the grisly axe murder of her father and stepmother in 1892; and Monsoon, a poetic film from director Hong Khaou about a man who returns to his native Vietnam from the UK to distribute his parents’ ashes, only to develop a relationship with an American man who has his own personal connection to the country.

The full festival program is announced on 8 January 2020.

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