The Politics of the Local: Australia’s Regional Galleries

The foyer of Latrobe Regional Gallery is humming with anticipation. Across the ground floor, crowds await the refurbishment’s official opening, tentatively spilling into new exhibition spaces rendered deeply provocative by internationally acclaimed Sydney artist Denis Beaubois. Upstairs, photographs by the phenomenal René Magritte wait patiently in newly reimagined spaces. Today’s event marks the successful end of a remarkably condensed period of collaboration by LRG Director Mark Themann with architects NAAU Studio, local builders and contractors, and local and state government. What it signifies, however, is far richer than a building re-opening: there are complex curatorial and political questions here that are familiar well beyond Morwell in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

Across Australia, regional galleries are leading important conversations on gallery practice, taking active roles in the ethics and the politics of the local, and articulating a strongly grounded artistic leadership. More than simply the custodians of carefully guarded collections, regional galleries succeed or struggle on the strength of their ambition for fostering the Australian culture from their own unique standpoint. Increasingly international in their outlook, regional galleries seek to balance local artistic development with global artistic movements, working from a confident connection to country and sense of place.

None of that is easy, of course; the realities of being responsible to a strongly invested local community both temper and inspire that work, offering city galleries some valuable insights along the way…

>>> Read on in Broadsheet Journal 46.3 available here via issuu

 

HEADER IMAGE: cover of Broadsheet Journal 46.3 showing Mother Lava (2017) by Hannah Bronte