Taste of an art lover: Director’s Choice at Tweed


Director’s Choice; works from the collection exhibition in Tweed Regional Gallery has 70 of the gallery director’s favourite pieces of its collection on show. This is a unique peek into the collection and an insight into the art lover that runs the gallery.

The Tweed Regional Gallery has a collection of approximately 1200 pieces across four focus areas: Australian portraiture; works on paper; works about the region or by artists in the region; and works by Margaret Olley and related artists.

Since its establishment almost two decades ago, the gallery has expanded its collection purely through acquisitions made with funds provided by the Friends of the Gallery, the Foundation, or through donations by artists, philanthropists and collectors.  During this time, the gallery has grown continuously not just in size, but in reputation and merit as well. Then again this might be a given for a gallery which employs a director who is named amongst the 50 most influential figures in the Australian art industry.

Susi Muddiman makes no apologies for this exhibition being unashamedly about her personal choice.

“I have tried to encompass all four areas of work in this exhibition” Ms Muddiman explains. The exhibition reflects her love of history, narrative and form in art. She has shown her love of small work; the admiration of the precision to detail, attention and accuracy. Even the French hanging of the exhibition reflects how art is displayed on the walls at home.

As a director who knows her public as well as the collection, Ms Muddiman has very deliberately included pieces that the public has a fondness for and pieces that reflect the diversity of the collection. The importance of the public’s sense of ownership and the love they have for the collection comes through in the exhibition. There is no doubt that portrait of Bill, a jackaroo and a bushpoet, by Robert Henneford is one of the most popular pieces in the collection. When the piece is not on display, the gallery receives requests from the community.  And if the piece is on loan, Ms Muddiman has been know to receive letters stating what a shame it is that the piece can not be at Tweed Regional Gallery all the time.

Out of the 70 pieces in the exhibition, there are few that stand out for Ms Muddiman more than others; Portia Geich’s painting of her father shows a successful draper in Melbourne who supported his daughters’ careers and aspirations on a time when the society didn’t do so.  There’s a photographic portrait of the gallery’s architect Bud Brannigan drinking an espresso in an urban setting in front of a building site. The Alternative Ambassadors (Professors Ross Garnaut & Martin Green) by Giles Alexander is another stand-out piece filled with symbolism, historical reference and a hint of sustainability. The title hints at both the original painting and the alternative energy technologies being displayed in place of the 16th century proto-scientific instruments of Han Holbein’s original masterpiece. And then there is Krefft’s Chair by Rew Hanks, the personal favourite of yours truly as well as one of the favourites of Ms Muddiman. The black and white linocut on paper is full of details and hints of his character and interests. Gerard Krefft was a zoologist, a paleontologist, a reputable scientist and the director of the Australian Museum. Due to his revolutionary ideas and theories, he was fired from the Australian Museum but as the story goes, he refused to leave the premises and was carried out in his easy chair. His ideas and theories included such radical notions as the lungfish being the ‘missing link’ between fish and amphibians and supporting the theories of his pen pal Charles Darwin.

You simply must make the journey to south side of the border for this exhibition. And while you are there, Rick Shearman’s drawings and travel journals in the foyer are an absolute delight and the view from the café is still the best ones in the southern hemisphere.

Director’s Choice; works from the collection is open until 5 June at Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah. For more information visit the gallery website on artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au.



Petrina Hicks

Eye Candy (from the series Descendants), 2008

Photographic lightjet print on paper


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