Explore the current art exhibitions on display at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. Discover the work of regional artists, national art prizes, our collections and more across five exhibition spaces.

Viola Bromley Art Prize

31 October – 17 December 2022

Viola Bromley was part of a small group invited to arrange the Festival of the Valley Art Prize in 1958 – the forerunner to the Muswellbrook Art Prize. Bromley also played a significant role in the construction of an art gallery at the Muswellbrook Town Hall site in 1975/1976, and in gaining the newly built Muswellbrook Municipal Art Gallery regional gallery status.

The Viola Bromley Art Prize is a celebration of local art across the disciplines of painting, works on paper, sculpture and photography, and open to all artists resident to the Muswellbrook, Singleton and Upper Hunter Shires. The winning acquisitive work from each section will be awarded $1,500 and join the Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection alongside key local artists including Max Watters, James Clifford and Viola Bromley herself.

The exhibition of the Viola Bromley Art Prize affords visitors to the gallery the opportunity to experience the art of our region, and that which builds our collection and the community’s story through the visual arts.

Viola Bromley, Rock Patterns 1958, oil on canvas on hardboard, 51 x 67.5cm, Winner Festival of the Valley Art Prize 1958, Local Section, Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection.

Formwork: Janice Hanicar and Samantha Haničar

31 October 2022 – 18 February 2023

Artworks about motherhood or portraits of the artist’s mother or daughter are common, yet finding examples of two-person exhibitions of mother and daughter artists is surprisingly difficult. Formwork is a duo exhibition by just such a pair. Individually, the works are fascinating and hold their own, yet together, it becomes a conversation between two artists who share the most defining relationship of people’s lives.

Janice is an avid collector and her sculptures are born intuitively, inspired by her collection. Few surfaces are polished as we’ve come to expect from concrete: objects like plastic from electrical cords are used as aggregate. In Fenestra No. 1, the materials that shaped its form are missing, holding both weight and weightless space simultaneously.

The organic nature of Janice’s practice has not been passed down: Samantha plans and sketches her sculptures. There is the same emphasis on negative space, the same use of concrete and collected materials, but whilst Janice uses the materials as a means to explore the elements of sculpture, works such as Architectonic No. 12 engage with their symbolic and visual potential: steel rods vibrate with staccato rhythm in the concrete composition.

Samantha’s drawings are self-referential sculptural objects, something akin to a poem about poetry. A folded sheet of paper is placed over raw concrete, a graphite stick repeatedly drawn over the surface to such a density that its materiality is simultaneously highlighted – graphite’s beautiful lustre- and denied: the result is physically heavy in appearance.

Janice and Samantha do not live near each other, a distance only multiplied psychologically during the lockdowns of recent years. By texting and phone calls, they gave each other feedback and support as they worked towards this exhibition. Formwork is a rare chance to view not only the output of two talented artists, but also to witness the relationship between them, one not only artistic but familial; formative and universal.
– Caterina Leone.

Left: Samantha Haničar, Infrastructure No.1 2022, concrete, steel, enamel & road line-marking paint, 42 x 25 x 10cm.

Right: Janice Hanicar, Anchored 2022, concrete & steel 25 x 33 x 8cm.

Manooka Park Halls

31 October 2022 – 18 February 2023

As Director of the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, Brad Franks was known as a great advocate of arts and culture in the Upper Hunter Region, often also personally supporting artists directly through patronage.

His continued support comes in the form of a donation to the Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection, with thirty-seven works taken from the walls of Franks’ former long-time home in the Upper Hunter Region – Manooka Park. These works have been selected by Franks for their connection to Muswellbrook and the surrounding regions.

The resulting exhibition, ‘Manooka Park Halls’, across paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, provides a unique snapshot of the local arts community.

Charles Blandford, ‘Warlord’ c. 1985, acrylic on hardboard, 114 x 88cm, Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection, donated by Brad Franks 2022.

In the Frame: James Gleeson

5 September – 17 December

The ‘In the Frame’ series focuses on the practice of a selected artist through work held in the Collections at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. ‘In the Frame: James Gleeson’ glimpses at distinct points in the career of Australia’s foremost surrealist painter – from work made as an 18-year-old in his first year studying art at East Sydney Technical College in 1934, to insights into his time spent as a writer and poet, to the rebirth of his career as an artist in the 1980s.

James Gleeson, Faultline 1983, oil and varnish on linen, 92 x 133cm, Loan courtesy of Andrew Grady, Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection.

Unleashed: A Dog’s Life

5 September 2022 – 18 February 2023

Coinciding with Muswellbrook Shire Council supported events ‘The Great Cattle Dog Muster’ (10 September) and ‘The Blue Heeler Film Festival (22 October), ‘Unleashed: A Dog’s Life’ is an entertaining glimpse into the life of the working dog through the lens of three passionate canine photographers.

Image: courtesy Karen Davis