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The Art Gallery of New South Wales is delighted to present Fieldwork: Landscapes West of Sydney, a travelling exhibition drawn from the Gallery’s treasured collection of late 19th and early to mid 20th century paintings and works on paper. Fieldwork will be showcased at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery and Penrith Regional Gallery.

With a focus on artists’ camps and painting expeditions organised at the Hawkesbury region, the Blue Mountains and Sydney’s western suburbs on Darug, Tharawal and Gundungurra Country, Fieldwork brings together significant and seldom-seen works by prominent artists including Hilda Rix Nicholas, Julian Ashton, Elioth Gruner, JJ Hilder, Sydney Long, Lorna Nimmo, Freda Robertshaw, Sydney Ure Smith and Charles Meere.

A highlight of the exhibition is Spring frost 1919, arguably Elioth Gruner's crowning achievement. Painted at Innes Farm in Emu Plains, the painting was awarded the Wynne Prize in 1919 and is one of the most celebrated and recognised works in the Gallery’s collection. Gruner’s Spring frost will be displayed within close proximity to where it was painted when Fieldwork travels to Penrith Regional Gallery for the first time in March 2021.

Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand said Fieldwork continues the Gallery’s long tradition of organising travelling exhibitions to regional areas across New South Wales.

Fieldwork brings together iconic depictions of Sydney’s western environs drawn from the Gallery’s collection and we are delighted to partner with Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery and Penrith Regional Gallery to bring these works to regional audiences,” Brand said.

“Produced during an exceptionally rich period in Australian art history, many of these artworks were collected by the Gallery at the time they were made, and some are now being exhibited for the first time in decades”

“We will miss our beloved Spring frost by Elioth Gruner as it heads out on the road, but it is a wonderful opportunity to share this iconic work with regional audiences and have it return to its ‘hometown’,” Brand added.

Assistant curator of Australian art Nick Yelverton also said, “Fieldwork explores how the combination of plein air painting with budding nationalism and a deepening appreciation of Australian scenery during the late 19th century, inspired landscape artists to escape the city and portray nature and rural pastimes. “The exhibition also addresses the influence of modern art and the shock of the First World War on this tradition of landscape art,” Yelverton said.

Alongside Spring frost, visitors to Fieldwork will see significant works by artist and teacher Julian Ashton who was among the earliest proponents of plein-air painting in Sydney and inspired subsequent generations of artists to travel to Richmond and the Hawkesbury region. Other key works in the show include Sydney Long’s Midday 1896, Roland Wakelin’s Narellan 1917 and Hilda Rix Nicholas’ Through the gum trees, Toongabbie c1920.

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