Artistic journey of discovery

Wellington from the outside in: Oxley Museum curator Dorothy Blake shows Sydney art curators Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams some intriguing exhibits of Wellington's Chinese history.
Wellington from the outside in: Oxley Museum curator Dorothy Blake shows Sydney art curators Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams some intriguing exhibits of Wellington's Chinese history.

Some of the nation’s top artists will be looking at Wellington from the outside in.

Sydney curators Glenn Barkley and Holly Williams’ first impression on arrival was that they had scratched the surface of something completely different; a place steeped in history, stunning landscapes and full of eccentricity.

What piqued their interest was a phone call from Alicia Leggett, executive director of Orana Arts who wanted to bring an art exchange to Wellington, through renowned company The Curators’ Department, funded in part by Arts NSW. They are also collaborating with Western Plains Cultural Centre curator Kent Buchanan.

“We very purposefully looked at artists who got on with people and generated talks. That’s part of what sharing the work is about,” curator Glenn Barkley said.

“To see the artists engage with the town and people. It is more than putting something here and walking away.”

The curators expect the artists will be influenced by the heritage buildings -one of the artists loves to photograph streetscapes and create miniature representations.

“They noticed the architecture straight away,” Mr Barkley said.

“The really interesting thing about the town is the remnant beautiful architecture. Usually at some point in the 70s there has been an urban renewal.”

In the October exhibition, locals can expect everything from environmental and word-themed art influenced by bird-watching to human robots made of skewers and suspended by helium balloons.

Former local Asher Milgate will also feature his work inspired by Wellington’s elders, and the curators expect there will be a cross pollination of ideas with the metro and regional artists, including Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens.

“It’s about meeting and talking to people. In some ways I think it’s more important than the art itself; the connections with people,” Mr Barkley said.

“I’m interested in the ideas contemporary art creates for everybody, not just in the city,” Ms Williams added.

“Projects can make people’s lives meaningful. To help bring that work into contact with people who might not have seen contemporary art before makes it worthwhile.”

The artists are Asher Milgate, Simon Yates, Liane Rossler, Karla Dickens, Raquel Ormella and the Ronalds. The exhibition coincides with Artlands Dubbo 2016, a national biennial conference of regional artists. Alicia Leggett said it would generate conversation between leading city and regional artists experiencing a unique view of Wellington.

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