Yesterday, I took a day off to immerse myself in new Australian art. I had booked The National Road Trip, a tour to three major Sydney galleries presenting works from the exhibition The National 2017: new Australian art. This biennial exhibition showcases works from 48 contemporary Australian artists across the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).

The tour started in the AGNSW, where our two guides welcomed us and explained the schedule for the day. We split in two groups and spent an hour in the gallery admiring the paintings and wonderful installations. A major theme throughout this part of the exhibition was Australian history with artworks looking at historical events, such as colonisation, war, or the aftermath of nuclear testing.

Here are some snapshots from the Art Gallery:

Playful installations at Carriageworks

Then, we drove to Carriageworks by bus to enjoy lunch at the farmers market followed by another hour in a much more playful exhibition with several large-scale and very colourful installations. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the raw, industrial site with the playful, textured artworks.

Our tour guides did an excellent job in engaging the group in discussions around the artworks. At one point, the gave us tear sheets from a magazine with random snippets of text. Then, they asked us to cross out words that do not relate to the particular artwork we were looking at. As a result, we created our own narratives about the artwork with the words we had selected.

Here are my snapshots from Carriageworks:

Abstract works at MCA

The last stop was the MCA in the Rocks where we first admired the enormous mural in the foyer, which is a temporary painting for a 12-month period and reflects the artist’s experiences when immigrating to Australia. More abstract paintings, drawings, sculptures and impressive installations followed on Level 3.

Here are my snapshots from MCA:

This tour was a great way to view contemporary art in three leading cultural institutions in Sydney in one day. I discovered it in the newsletter from the Art Gallery, which I receive since I became a member in 2009. A tour like The National Road Trip is a fantastic opportunity to visit galleries in suburbs of Sydney you don’t go to very often and, at the same time, learn more about Australian art and spend a nice day out with like-minded people.

If you are interested in viewing this exhibition, The National 2017 is still running in the AGNSW until the 16 July. Carriageworks finishes on the 25 June.

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