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Open Weekend
Art Gallery of NSW, Pukamani Poles

The Art Gallery of New South Wales Grand Courts, home to Rubens, Van Gogh, Monet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Hogarth, Delacroix, Leighton, Constable, Gainsborough and Australian artists, Roberts, Streeton, McCubbin, Lambert, Bunny, Phillips Fox, Gruner and Ashton, will re-open to the public in ‘grand’ style on the Gallery’s open weekend (12 & 13 September) with more than 50 free events.

Some of the most significant and iconic paintings in the world hang permanently on the walls of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the thirteen grand, old courts. These rooms were the very first rooms of the Gallery to be built in 1897 in typically grand Victorian style and scale.

These elegant rooms house Sydney’s premier collections of both European art, from the Renaissance to Impressionism and Australian art, from colonisation to the end of the nineteenth century. It’s also the area where some of the greatest Australian artists walked. Roberts, Streeton and the young George Lambert must have been proud to find on show the first official recognition of their achievement by any state art gallery.

The Grand Courts have gone through major refurbishment, resulting in more works on the walls, more sculptures and, for the first time in 50 years, work by the Aboriginal artists will feature alongside the Gallery’s colonial collection. The majestic Pukumani graveposts, made by Tiwi artists from the small community on Melville Island, were removed more than 50 years ago from the Grand Courts.  These 17 poles, the centre piece of the Gallery’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection, will take pride of place back in the Grand Courts. Accompanying these sculptures will be similar period bark paintings from across the Arnhem Land region.

There will be a larger display of Australian sculpture ranging from the mid 19th to early 20th centuries. Amongst the works exhibited are a superb group of sculptures by Bertram Mackennal, the first significant Australian-born sculptor, who achieved exceptional success in Paris and London in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The ‘new’ Grand Courts, will house more than 300 paintings. Favourites, including Tom Roberts’ Bailed Up (1895) and The Golden Fleece (1894), Elioth Gruner’s Spring Frost (1919), Arthur Streeton’s Fire's on (1891), Poynter’s The Queen of Sheba visiting the Court of King Solomon (1890) and Leighton’s Cymon and Iphigenia (1884) will be seen in a new light.

Weekend highlights:
• Actor Jack Thompson will read from The campfire yarns of Henry Lawson
• Liz Ashburn will demonstrate traditional sculpting techniques before a live model
• Take a tour with Edmund Capon
• Listen to Flacco’s ‘FlaccODE to the Grand Courts’
• Learn to draw at special workshops for children
• Meet Simon Marnie (702 ABC Sydney Weekend), who will broadcast live from the Gallery’s Grand Courts (Sunday 10am -12noon)

Please click here for a full list of events


Saturday 12 September & Sunday 13 September
10am ´┐Ż 5pm
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744
(02) 9225 7400 Recorded information
1800 679 278 National toll free
Hours:Open 7 days 10am until 5pm
Open until 9pm every Wednesday for Art After Hours
Media Information and Interviews:Susanne Briggs
(02) 9225 1791 or mobile 0412 268 320

IMAGE CREDIT: Art Gallery of New South Wales Grand Courts. Photograph: Jenni Carter;
Laurie Nelson Mungatopi, Bob One Apuatimi, Jack Yarunga, Don Burakmadjua, Charlie Quiet Kwangdini, Artist Unknown, Tiwi, Milikapiti, Melville Island, North region Tutini (Pukumani graveposts) 1959, natural pigments on wood, various sizes. Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959. Collection Art Gallery of New South Wales.´┐ŻArtists and their estates, courtesy Jilamara Arts and Crafts.