Everything small is big again in Australian art

IT’S been 125 years since the original 9x5 exhibition caused a stir in Melbourne and helped usher in a new era of Australian art.

Warrnambool & District Artists’ Society president Maureen Healey, committee member Gwyn Taylor and vice-president Tim Walker with some of the 9x5 works.  Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Warrnambool & District Artists’ Society president Maureen Healey, committee member Gwyn Taylor and vice-president Tim Walker with some of the 9x5 works.  Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

One of the best known early displays of Australian impressionism, the display featured works by Tom Roberts, Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton, Fred McCubbin, and C Douglas Richardson.

Considered controversial at the time, the exhibition is now viewed as a milestone moment in Australian art. To mark the 125th anniversary, the Warrnambool & District Artists’ Society (WDAS) is holding its own 9x5 exhibition at Flagstaff Hill.

\The display will be officially opened tomorrow night at Pippies By The Bay, with Andrew McKenzie, an eminent scholar in the field of Australian impressionism, to be guest speaker.

WDAS vice-president Tim Walker said 38 local artists had contributed a total of 65 works that follow the “nine-inches-by-five-inches” — or cigar box size — specifications of the original exhibition.

The 125th anniversary was worth celebrating because the impact of the original 9x5 exhibition still resonated today, he said.

“Those paintings by Streeton and McCubbin and co ... still ring bells for many Australians and impressionism is still an art movement that influences popular taste,” Mr Walker explained.

The exhibition will run at Flagstaff Hill for three months, but all artworks will be for sale. Mr Walker said three prizewinners would be announced tomorrow night, while votes for a people’s choice award would be accumulated during the first week of the exhibition.

A small number of tickets for the opening are still available. Contact Gwyn Taylor on 0417 595 194 for details.

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