Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 1970-2020

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 1970-2020
Edited by Vanessa Pellatt
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG) Collection was first formed in 1970 under the leadership of founding Director Alan McCulloch and succeeded by Gallery Directors Kim Sajet, Elizabeth Gleeson, Andrea May Churcher and Jane Alexander. Marking MPRG’s 50th anniversary, ‘Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 1970-2020’, is the most substantial collection-focused publication produced by the Gallery and serves as a record of the achievements of these leaders, their curatorial colleagues and gallery staff.

The publication honours the formation and burgeoning of the Collection, which over the last five decades has grown to include over 1,800 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures by some of Australia’s most exemplary artists. Three essays articulate the spirit of MPRG and the development of the Collection – opening with a historical recount of the Gallery’s first 20 years by Susan McCulloch OAM, an essay by former MPRG Senior Curator Rodney James covering the period following Alan McCulloch’s retirement in 1991, and more recent years by the current Artistic Director and Senior Curator, Danny Lacy.

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Celebrating the breadth and distinction of the Collection, the proceeding pages reveal a curated selection of the artworks, accompanied by text from current and former staff and artists represented in the Collection. Highlights include portraits by Tom Roberts, Jenny Watson and Mike Parr; ink works by Russell Drysdale and Brett Whiteley; landscapes capturing the diversity of Australia’s natural environment by Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams and Catherine Cassidy; figurative illustrations by Charles Blackman, John Brack and TextaQueen; contemporary art by Vernon Ah Kee and Lisa Waup; Pat Brassington’s investigation of the body, and photography by Anne Zahalka reflecting the multicultural nature of Australia.

Since 1998, the MPRG’s National Works on Paper Prize has acted as an important source of contemporary growth for the Collection. Included in the publication is eX de Medici’s skilfully rendered watercolour work Red (Colony) (2000), which presents a critique of global capitalism, consumerism and corporate vice and Orang-utan index (2001-03) by Lisa Roet, a charcoal and conté crayon drawing, exploring the relationship between humans and primates and theories relating to evolution and creationism.

Lacy’s sentiments carry through ‘Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 1970-2020’ – ‘Art collections do not just exist they are formed by the ebb and flow of the prevailing shifts in the art world; constructions of time, energy, money and knowledge, vision and ambition of the people responsible for crafting them.’